Fly-fish the pristine waters of the Owens River. Step up to the microphone in a California honky-tonk. Surf the biggest waves California has ever seen. Mingle with ducks in an urban oasis. Roller skate through L.A.'s Union Station. See California through the eyes of 27 of the state's finest writers in this delicious travel and adventure anthology. All of the contributors to MY CALIFORNIA donated their work so proceeds of this book can benefit the beleaguered California Arts Council, an agency forced to suspend school writing and arts education programs in 2003. The arts council has earmarked money from MY CALIFORNIA for writing programs for children statewide. Join contributors Pico Iyer, Michael Chabon, Thomas Steinbeck, Dana Gioia, Matt Warshaw, Patt Morrison, T. Jefferson Parker, Edward Humes, Mark Arax, Deanne Stillman, Rubén Martínez, Percival Everett, Kathi Kamen Goldmark, Mary Mackey, Gerald Haslam, Aimee Liu, D.J. Waldie, Héctor Tobar, Firoozeh Dumas, devorah major, Carolyn See, Chryss Yost, Anh Do, Derek M. Powazek, Daniel Weintraub, David Kipen, and Veronique de Turenne in a good read for a good deed!!
"California is the only state in the Union that has flourished beyond all expectations, primarily because it has always been all things to all people. And like the seduction of the Muses, she always appears in the garb of our own desires..."
So writes Thomas Steinbeck in "Montalvo, Myths and Dreams of Home," one of twenty-seven stories featured in MY CALIFORNIA, an extraordinary creative outpouring from the state’s literary community in support of the California Arts Council. MY CALIFORNIA is a collaboration between Angel City Press in Santa Monica and CaliforniaAuthors.com.
Excerpted from My California: Journeys By Great Writers by Donna Wares, Mark Arax, Aimee Liu, T. Jefferson Parker, Mary MacKey, Hector Tobar, Thomas Steinbeck, Edward Humes, Matt Warshaw, Firoozeh Dumas, Devorah Major, Michael Chabon. Copyright © 2004. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
From Pico Iyer's Introduction to My California:
To those of us who came to California from far away — as so many of us do — the place we imagine (and so find) seems located somewhere around the day after tomorrow. Ever since Hernando Cortez named this stretch of land, by some accounts, after a fictional island of the Amazons (fashioned in a fifteenth-century Spanish novel), California, more than anywhere, has been a province of the imagination that confounds most of us who confront it in reality. A state of consciousness, you could say, on which outsiders, who soon become honorary Californians, famously project their hopes and frustrations. It has always seemed apt to me that the home of physical and metaphysical gold rushes — the "Great Western Paradise," as the Chinese called it — is also the place, some say, where the fortune cookie was invented. Fortunes, futures, gimcrack versions of futures: They’re all mixed together here, drawing us from afar, potential consumers, potential producers of a dream that — we come to see too late — can best be appreciated from afar.
"It’s a state of mind," Robert Redford once said of California’s fictional capital, Hollywood, passing on the conventional wisdom, and it’s an actual location. The location is scarred, scary and full of those who’ve lost their way; but as a state of mind, in Redford’s words, "it’s transporting and unique: the end of the rainbow, the melting pot, the edge of the continent." Or, to put it another way, Hollywood Boulevard has long been a slum, but the Hollywood sign shines in the world’s imagination.
This all has become part of the received wisdom of the place, the first cliché for the newcomer to see through; but what the Californian veteran often loses sight of is that the place really has managed to remain one step, one thought, ahead of the rest of us.