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New California Writing 2011 Paperback – April 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


''Interesting times for the Golden State make good reads.''--SF Weekly

''A fascinating read, start to finish.''--San Jose Mercury News

''[R]ife with poignant social/cultural insight and first-rate storytelling.''--ZZYZZYVA

''The series' inaugural publication has set a high standard; next year's entry should be well worth anticipating.''--New Pages

''No matter the state of California at this juncture, it remains golden within our hearts and here we find the words to express that.''--San Francisco Book Review

''The best of American literature, only more so.''--Crosscut.com

''A grand literary tour of the Golden State. New California Writing 2011 showcases California in its infinite variety through the eyes of the likes of Michael Chabon, Susan Straight, Victoria Patterson, and Stephen Elliott; our superstars, up and comers, and tireless chroniclers--and all without ever getting on a freeway.'' --Mark Sarvas, author of the novel, Harry, Revised and host of the literary weblog The Elegant Variation

About the Author

Gayle Wattawa, thoroughly addicted to contemporary literature, always carries with her a well-worn public library card and a relentless weakness for book reviews, literary journals, and lit news blogs. She is the founding editor of the New California Writing series and editor of Inlandia: A Literary Journey through California's Inland Empire. As Heyday's acquisitions and editorial director, she has supervised the assemblage of a half-dozen other literary anthologies as well.

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Product Details

  • Series: New California Writing
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Heyday (April 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597141569
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597141567
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,161,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
The quotation in the title of this review came from Wallace Stegner. In this anthology, edited by Gayle Wattawa, we get the voices of the spectrum that makes California the place it is, a land of dreams, a land of hope, a land of crushed spirits, a land of diversity.

Diversity is the key word in this anthology. Each of the selected pieces highlights another aspect of California life, some particular to the Golden State and some "like America, but more so."

There are non-fiction pieces such as the address to Berkeley grads from the department of Geography. In it, Gray Brechin makes a plea for education and above all, liberal arts education. He notes the great works of the WPA and the inscriptions etched into public places. The one that touched me most is this one: "What you would first have in the life of a nation you must put into its schools."

The comedic excerpt, "George Bland Ate My Homework" (Brad Schreiber in Black Clock) captures the adolescent trying to wrangle his way out of a missing assignment; "Dear Mr. Atende" (Susan Straight, The Normal School) is much more serious, as a hard-working, single mom tries to explain a project that parents are not supposed to help with but of course other kids' parents do since they don't work two jobs and have a car to run all over town gathering supplies.

Wattawa includes poetry particular to the beauty and the challenges of California, "San Clemente," "Om," "Love Poem for Los Angeles," "Point Lobos Outlook," and others touching on universal experience, "Boy Cleaning Trout."

I have five favorite pieces, each about a family.
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Format: Paperback
Editor Gayle Wattawa sounds a note full of depth, resonance and diversity in "New California Writing" Heyday Books new anthology series. From Michael Chabon's musings on everyday family life in "Manhood for Amateurs" or Rebecca Solnit's enlightening description of bluebelly lizards, on through to the very last page, there is much to ponder, embrace and recognize as the great golden State of California.

Think of this book as a snapshot of a single moment, captured simultaneously by distant cousins who have never met--viewing these vignettes shifts the reader's perspective, informing subtly, as the best writing does.

"New California Writing" shows us a California that may be accurately characterized for its multi-culturalism and rich geography. Included are well-known authors alongside emerging writers. Expect luminous portraits of people and places, from the Projects to pastures, poems and essays to haunt and edify with lingering images. Some of America's best literary and news publications are blended in the mix--Copper Canyon Press, Three-Penny Review and the LA Times--fueling contrast rather than distracting.

For those readers tempted to dive right in and bypass the introduction, resisting the rush will be rewarded with a wonderful commentary by Malcolm Margolin, Heyday Books founder and author. Margolin sends this new series off with this fine sentiment "After you read this collection I hope you will conclude that the best of California literature is like the best of American literature, only more so."

For me, it is the pervasive hope of perseverance and Solnit's portrait of a bluebellied lizard, doing push-ups on a hot granite boulder by the Yuba River forever in my mind, which remains.
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