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.