Ian Whitcomb

Darkness In Eden

Coast of Dreams: A History of Contemporary California

By

Allen Lane The Penguin Press 754pp £25 order from our bookshop

Full disclosure: I’m pally with Dr Kevin Starr. He invites me to swell dinners at plush businessmen’s clubs in downtown Los Angeles, where, to the accompaniment of my ukulele, I lead movers and shakers in singalongs. When he was California’s State Librarian he made me State Minstrel, which entailed my travelling around with wife and dog in a minivan, stopping off to perform, with Ukie, at rural libraries. This was a plum job – it would never have happened in England, my native land.

I’ve lived in Los Angeles as a resident alien since the 1960s, arriving as a British pop invader and staying on for the work, the acceptance, the chance to grab the brass ring once more before I die: for the elusive dream that some of us chase till we fall over the edge.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • The entertaining Howard Jacobson is in conversation with Prof John Mullan at the Queen’s Park Book Festival on Sund… ,
    • 'A modest and retiring man, Thompson spent his life describing apple varieties and recommending the best – Ribston… ,
    • 'Macfarlane is a poet with the instincts of a thriller writer, an autodidact in botany, mycology, geology and palae… ,
    • 'Some scholars attribute Shakespeare’s pre-eminence to four centuries of propaganda and not to the fact that Hamlet… ,
    • RT : We would appreciate any retweets ,
    • We've just stumbled on a gem from the LR archive. The emoluments page from May 1995, in which one reviewer asked to… ,
    • Unlike Mary Shelley's monstrous creation, Jeanette Winterson's Frankenstein-inspired novel feels 'barely alive', sa… ,