Friday, January 23, 2009

We Sudy California

I’m going to Berkeley today for the meeting of the California Studies Association based in Berkeley:

http://californiastudiesassociation.berkeley.edu/

I am a board member. We study California and have an annual conference In April trying to connect academics who study California, politicians, community activists, writers and artists. Last year the conference was called “Changing Climates: Class, Culture, and Politics in an Era of Global Warming.” I did a panel on new California fiction, and my panelists were novelist/poet Owen Hill taking about his detective novel The Chandler Apartments set in Berkley dealing with conflict between bohemians and dot.com yuppies; poet/playwright Judy Juanita reading poetry and discussing her plays; and novelist/journalist Rip Rense discuss his second novel The Oaks about a boy growing up in the 1960s in a brand new superb of Los Angeles trying his survive his hostile stepmother and alcoholic father.

This year the conference is will be at De Anza College in Cupertino, Silicon Valley, on Friday April 24: “an attempt to orient the vision of the Silicon Valley away from the entrepreneurial, boosterist narrative, and toward the history and culture of the political economy and its communities.” For the conference I read many novels written about Silicon Valley discovering yes, indeed, this area has a fascinating new literature. Some of the writers I discovered are novelist/journalist Po Bronson whose novels I reviewed her; journalist/short story writer Pauline Borsook, who wrote a wonderful non-fiction critique of Silicon Valley culture Cyberselfish; and novelist Pat Dillons’s The Last Big Thing, a wonderful satire on the dotcom bubble.

CSA also has frequent free dinner/talks in Berkeley where authors about California books talk along with free dinner. I’ll post the information soon for the next dinner/talk.

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