Thursday, July 13, 2006

Only in California

Take 27 talented authors. Ask them to write essays about California. Combine them into a book with great cover art by David Hockney and donate the profits to the California Art Council.

It’s a great idea, and the premise behind My California: Journeys by Great Writers. This anthology is a collection of travel narratives by a well-known group, including Michael Chabon, Dan Goia, Carolyn See, T. Jefferson Parker, and many more. Incredibly, the anthology has raised more than $60,000 for children’s writing programs around the state.

Three California cities –Santa Barbara, Sacramento and Whittier — have just picked the book to be their One City, One Book reading projects. The city of Long Beach read the book in the spring.

The editor of My California is Donna Wares, who also runs the fabulous website California Authors. I check this site every day because it has a mix of gossip – who is getting published, which bookstores are closing (or opening), who is reading where – as well as excerpts from books about California. There are author interviews and links to West Coast publishers and independent bookstores. It has a compendium of vital books about the history and culture of California

The premise is that the publishing world is way too New York-centric. Read their mission statement:

“Squinting westward, New York publishing seems to see us dimly. California. Somewhere. Out there at the end of the Pony Express line, indefinable on the dusty horizon. But from here, under the bright western sky, Pacific crashing at our feet, California shows up in crisp detail. It is generous, even lavish: rich in literary tradition, the nation's largest book market, home to the readers who create best-sellers, home to the eloquent voices who are defining the best in American publishing. It's all so clear to us. Here. And because being here counts, we are building — creating an online literary hub for the West Coast's finest writers and their readers.”

If you buy the book, you, too, can help children's literacy programs in the state/

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