Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Recommended Book

Decided to include a 'recommended book' feature.

This first time it will be The Misread City, edited by Scott Timberg and Dana Gioia, 2003.

This book, as I mentioned below, was supposedly prompted by Dana Gioia's charge that California letters lacked critical support. What he and Mr. Timberg produced out of that imperative was this terrific series of essays on the literary life of the southland. From Raymond Chandler's treacherous allure of the hard-boiled detective to the expressionist poetry of Wanda Coleman to the narratives of the wild lifestyle of gay model John Rechy, there emerges from literary Los Angeles a bolder and more brilliant cultural panache, never lacking in neither conviction nor diversity, than what one would ever expect to get out of a Friday night at the movies.

Especially interesting is the piece "Surviving Apocalypse" by David Fein, a recently retired professor of English, who describes how subnarratives of looming Apocalypse pervade much creative work that comes out of southern California, literary, film, or otherwise; he goes on to tell us of the geographic, authentic, historical and media-manufactured reasons for this.

Here is a piece from a poem that appears in the collection, Shangri-La, by Suzanne Lummis:

New York, is it true
that in the rest of the world it is winter?

Our state is a mosaic of blue pools
even the Mojave, and the palm trees
line up straight to the Sierra Nevadas,
and the surf comes down slow like
Delirious laundry, even near Fresno

We're sorry we can't be reached
by plane or bus, sorry one can't pull
even the tiniest thing out of a dream
We're like the landscape inside
a plastic dome filled with water

But turn us over, then upright.
No snow falls.


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