Great California stories
In 1510 a Spanish romancer described an island called California, "very close to the side of the Terrestrial Paradise." It was inhabited by Amazons, and even the harnesses of the beasts they rode were gold. Thus began the rich literature of California.
In a place that boasts so many claims to one's attention, short fiction has flourished. Great California Stories trumpets the immense short story tradition developed by visitors like Mark Twain and Ambrose Bierce but mostly by natives like Jack London and John Steinbeck. The twenty-one stories in this anthology go back to the oral tradition of the American Indians and recall the Hispanic settlement, the gold rush of the 1850s, the agricultural epoch, the growth of cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles, the foibles of early Hollywood, and the rise of ghettos. The ethnic diversity of California is reflected in a cast of story characters including Indians, mission fathers, Asians, Mexican Americans, African Americans, and forty-niners and landseekers from the eastern states. California's varied scenery is drawn on in stories with a strong sense of place, whether Steinbeck's Salinas Valley or Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles.
Besides Steinbeck and Chandler, authors represented are Theodora Kroeber, Bret Harte, Gertrude Atherton, Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce, Edwin Cone, Jack London, Idwal Jones, Walter Van Tilburg Clark, Dashiel Hammett, Eugene Burdick, Janet Lewis, Wallace Stegner, and Danny Santiago. For them California is a memorable background, sometimes a fabulous character, always a distinctive quality.
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