California Archive

The Limits and Freedoms of Literary Regionalism: Silence and the Self in Joan Didion’s Southern California Memoir

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Joan Didion's 1979 book of essays The White Album is not only a road trip through the gridded streets and indecisive canyons of Los Angeles County, but also a meditation on Southern California as a setting for self-discovery.

Writ in Water: Interview with Claire Vaye Watkins

Claire Vaye Watkins, author of the celebrated collection Battleborn and widely acclaimed novel Gold Fame Citrus, talks with me about writing and living the West, conservation and resistance and optimism in the world of Trump, and faith in the "California experiment."

Writ in Water: Interview with Brit Bennett and “The Mothers”

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Brit Bennett talked with me about her new novel "The Mothers," and about the power of place--writing in the West through many communities--"performing California-ness," the weird excitement for wildfire season, forever building piers into the ocean, and In-N-Out burger.

Writ in Water: Yellow Not Mellow

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A sight now common across California: the yellow toilet bowl. Conscientiously curated, it’s a light shade of daffodil, lemon, banana; this is early in the lifespan, the visitors before you healthy and drinking plenty of water.

Writ in Water: Interview with Chris McCormick and “Desert Boys”

This month, I chat with author Chris McCormick, whose terrific debut of linked stories, Desert Boys, follows main character Daley “Kush” Kushner and his friends Robert Karinger and Dan Watts. The book is largely set in the growing desert suburbia of the Antelope Valley, 70-odd miles north of Los

Writ in Water: Son of Salinas

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  Last month, I mentioned John Steinbeck’s famous declaration about the forgetfulness of his beloved Salinas Valley in matters of water and drought. He is fortunate that the valley has not forgotten him. The National Steinbeck Center commands one end of Main Street in downtown Salinas, and a walk

Writ in Water: The Wet Years

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I live near a cemetery in the Berkeley hills that has turned green from the rain. I do most of my jogging in the cemetery, and it reminds me—especially going uphill—that our time here is fleeting. I run among the dead, and I run among the deer and turkeys

“This World and the World Just Beyond It”: An Interview with Brynn Saito

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Brynn Saito’s poems are lyrical, sometimes mystical, dream-like yet also grounded in what feels like lived life. Her debut book, The Palace of Contemplating Departure, is marked by a striking voice that sounds both of this world and as if it comes from somewhere far above it. With Traci Brimhall,

Holiday Book Shopping List: The TV-Lovers Edition

‘Tis the season for gift giving, and what makes a better gift than an unforgettable book? 2014 has been a great year for books and television both, so here are some pairings to help you shop for the TV enthusiast in your life.

Literary Boroughs #57: Riverside, CA

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The Literary Boroughs series will explore little-known and well-known literary communities across the country and world and show that while literary culture can exist online without regard to geographic location, it also continues to thrive locally. Posts are by no means exhaustive. The series originally ran on our blog from May 2012 until April 2013.