Life in the Real Southern California

My great realization when my dad was transferred from Charlotte, North Carolina to Santa Monica back in 1966 was that, despite all those Beach Boy songs and surf movies, everyone in Southern California didn’t live in a mansion overlooking the ocean among all the celebrities. My family spent a few weeks in a motel in Culver City, then moved to Reseda out in the San Fernando Valley. There were no celebrities or ocean breezes. I was confused.

Since then, I’ve tried to read and write stories that don’t necessarily concern rich and glamorous Californians. Stories about people who work at the post office and shop at Target. People like me.

I’ve been a fan of Bill Wolfe’s Read Her Like an Open Book for a long time. Wolfe has been celebrating literary fiction and memoirs by women for the past four years. So when I got the opportunity to write about Southern Californian by Southern Californian authors for his blog, I went to my bookshelf.

Stack of books. Mecca, Shaky town, If I Were the Ocean, The Little Brother and Maria, MariaHere are five of my favorite Southern California authors: Pete Hsu, Lou Matthews, Victoria Patterson, Marytza K. Rubio, and Susan Straight. These authors all have a keen eye for detail, a strong sense of place, and an understanding of the importance of humor, heart, and hope. In their work, landscape is always a protagonist.

No matter where we live, Southern Californians cringe when they hear the devil Santa Ana winds blow, anticipate earthquakes, and worry about fires and mudslides. And California stories usually include freeway directions. Read the rest here.

Stay tuned for Part Two. Any suggestions?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest