Review T R CoasT Stephen Kessler

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Page The Redwood Coast Review Summer 2009,editor s note. California Realist The dream life of Jim Houston,Stephen Kessler. ne afternoon about 30 years ago I from it at Bookshop Santa Cruz Jim and. was browsing in Logos the great He was a working Jeanne were in the audience I read a poem. used book store in Santa Cruz when called Strangers in a Strange Night an ac. I bumped into novelist James D Hous writer consistently at count of a rather sordid sexual episode that. ton Houston known as Jim to friends and begins in a bar on the eastside of town and. acquaintances was easily the best known tuned to the art the whose opening line is What was the name. writer in town and had been since my craft and the business of that dive near the beach on Seabright. arrival in 1968 to attend graduate school Out of the shocked or bemused or. at UCSC At that time he had already pub of his profession mov disgusted silence following the poem Jim s. lished a couple of novels and was placing deep voice could be heard to say Brady s. stories in big time national magazines like ing easily from fiction Of course that dive was just across the. Playboy he was in his mid 30s a model for to nonfiction and back harbor from the historic house where he and. aspiring younger writers like me who had his family had lived since 1962 and true to. dreams of one day being authentic authors steadily dreaming up his sense of historical accuracy combined. with books of our own By the time of our with knowledge of the neighborhood he. encounter in Logos Jim had several more new projects and com was naturally moved to offer the name of. titles to his credit both fiction and nonfic pleting them all the the bar. tion and as we exchanged greetings and,while staying true to his. inquired about one another s latest projects,he cheerfully reported that he d just turned. in a manuscript to his publisher vision of his job as a H ouston s memorial event at a large. public venue in Santa Cruz drew by,my estimate at least 600 people many.
I don t recall exactly how the conversa,tion came around to the protocol of working. chronicler of the life of of them family or friends or associates or. former students he had taught writing on,with editors but on that topic Houston. James D Houston 1933 2009, his native region and off over the years at UCSC but others. told me he always included a number of I expect had been casual acquaintances or. minor errors in his manuscript so the editor admiring readers or simply locals with a. would feel that he had something useful feel for the momentous import of his death. to do and would be distracted from more Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston of her family s his strength as a descriptive writer flights of There were Scottish bagpipes and Hawai. meddlesome and substantive changes to the experience in a Japanese American intern lyricism wry wit grounded spirituality and ian singers and testimony by such stars of. author s prose style ment camp during World War II in their co deep understanding of the California ethos California literature as Maxine Hong Kings. When Jim Houston died at 75 in April authored book Farewell to Manzanar all He reaches back to his Scottish and North ton and Al Young The recurrent theme of. I thought of this anecdote as emblematic of add up to a body of work with regional roots Carolinian ancestors and to his father s everyone s remembrances was what a dream. his consummate professionalism from his but national and international reach migration from Texas to San Francisco of a great life Jim had led rich not only. meticulous attention to every sentence in his Santa Cruz poet Morton Marcus where Jim was born to show how even with prolific and successful writing but with. writing to his feeling for the subtleties of Houston s close friend since their days the most Western of writers in his case is surfing and music he was an accomplished. the publishing business He was a work together in the early 1960s as Stegner Fel connected by blood and history to far flung guitarist and standup bass player not to. ing writer consistently attuned to the art lows at Stanford told me that back then at parts of the planet Add to this his half cen mention the ukulele and family and friends. the craft and the business of his profession the start of their writing careers he and Jim tury long marriage to Jeanne whose parents his warm voice sparkly eyes and resonant. moving easily from fiction to nonfiction and would have intense and endless conversa were Japanese immigrants and their three laugh were repeatedly invoked The wealth. back steadily dreaming up new projects and tions about what they were reading and multicultural California kids and you have of sincere and affectionate tributes reminded. completing them all the while staying true that Nathanael West s short 1939 novel The a picture of the worldly scope that informed me not only of how well he was loved. to his personal vision of his job as a chroni Day of the Locust struck Houston like a Houston s grasp of the local but how well he had lived and with what. cler of the life and culture and history of his bolt of lightning West s caustic take on Another 1939 California classic John integrity The reception that followed with. native region of the Pacific Coast and the Hollywood is one of the earliest classic Steinbeck s The Grapes of Wrath as well plenty of food and drink and a Hawaiian. Pacific Rim His intimate knowledge and California narratives and Houston was evi as other Steinbeck books set in the Salinas string band was a festive reunion of long. cultivated study of all things Californian dently captivated by its cultural and regional Valley and Monterey provided a model for time veterans of local cultural history with. especially Central and Northern Californian specificity It took him several years to Houston s blend of reportorial and imagina Houston himself about the only missing. his literate immersion in the surfing histori sort it out but by his third novel A Native tive narratives of the West Steinbeck along dignitary. cal and musical universes of his beloved Son of the Golden West Houston had found with Robinson Jeffers Wallace Stegner As I moved toward the exit of the sunny. Hawaii and his difficult but ultimately his subject and in subsequent books like Jaime de Angulo and William Everson are courtyard after a couple of beers I paused. liberating investigation with his wife Continental Drift Gasoline Love Life The all cited by Houston as setting the standards to survey a display of photos Jim as a. Last Paradise Snow Mountain Passage of regional insight and artistry he sought to boy as a young sailor as radiant husband. Bird of Another Heaven and such nonfiction emulate with his beautiful bride as a dad with his. works as Californians Searching for the Yet even the success of Manzanar and growing family as a celebrated author in. Golden State In the Ring of Fire A Pacific the internationalization of his and Jeanne s his signature white suit We d never been. The Redwood Coast Basin Journey and Hawaiian Son The Life fame that came with that book s translation close friends just casually friendly as fel. and Music of Eddie Kamae he ceaselessly into many languages and its canonization low writers and denizens of a shared habitat. explored the subtleties and intricacies of as required reading in schools and colleges Yet somehow those pictures really got to. what it meant to be rooted in such a watery not to mention their adaptation of it into a me and suddenly I felt his loss as acutely. and geologically volatile yet gorgeous and television movie seen by millions never personal Surely this had to do more than. Stephen Kessler seductive realm seemed to have any effect on his down anything else with his quality as a person. Editor to earth regular guy personality Big as,Barbara L Baer. Daniel Barth,H is last book Where Light Takes Its,Color from the Sea a gathering of.
essays and short fiction written over the last,he was both physically at six foot three. and in terms of literary accomplishment,it never went to his head In his supreme. Daniela Hurezanu 45 years is a fitting coda to his career and self confidence he was able also to be truly. Jonah Raskin a good introduction for those unfamiliar humble never taking his local stardom too Stephen Kessler s newest book a transla. Contributing Editors with his work In this volume published seriously always content to be just one tion is Desolation of the Chimera Last. last year by Berkeley s Heyday Books the among many in the lively and varied com Poems by Luis Cernuda White Pine Press. Linda Bennett munity of Santa Cruz writers, reader will find examples of Houston s jour Books by James D Houston can be found. Production Director nalistic skills his fine eye as a portraitist When my book of poems After Modigli through Coast Community Library. T he R edwood C oast R eview is published his ear for many styles of vernacular speech ani came out in 2000 and I gave a reading. quarterly January April July and October,by Friends of Coast Community Library in. cooperation with the Independent Coast, Observer The opinions expressed in these volcano from page 1.
pages are those of the individual writers and,do not necessarily reflect the views of FoCCL. the ICO or the advertisers Contents copyright he landed on the back of a wolf Joseph thing about it was how quietly it was stand everything in its path to another time and. 2009 The Redwood Coast Review All rights spoke reverently as he continued his narra ing and its eyes were not glowing at all but place. revert to authors and artists on publication tive about his friend the gray wolf had a soft sparkle like diamonds reflecting Lately visitors to the Columbia River. We welcome your submissions Please, The wolf was looking for a cozy lair in the sunlight The red giant seemed to be basin say that when the moon is full they. send essays reviews fiction poetry and letters, to the Editor The Redwood Coast Review c o ICO which to catch up on some much needed looking at something below in the river So sometimes hear the sound of an old truck. PO Box 1200 Gualala CA 95445 Manuscripts rest Suddenly in the middle of his usual intense was the wolf s concentration he shifting gears driven by a grinning fisher. should be typed double spaced with the path near the black road where the night almost failed to notice the man fishing in man shouting wahooo Others who claim. author s name address phone and email at monsters roared and sped past with their the river to have seen the specter describe the vehicle. the top of the first page Postal mail only A glowing white eyes he stopped dead in his At that moment thunder rolled across the as old and red a large gray wolf rides in. self addressed stamped envelope is required tracks and stared in wonder Never in all valley The earth shook Something black the back and a raven stands on the wolf s. for our reply of his wanderings had he seen one of the carrying a heavy weight of silver landed on shoulder pecking at something silver pos. On the Web stephenkessler com rcr html road monsters up close His instinct was to his back Frightened and disoriented the sibly a large trout. Subscription information See page 9, run but his curiosity was stronger and he wolf jumped over the tailgate of the pickup. Friends of Coast Community Library is a, nonprofit tax exempt 501 c 3 organization crouched behind a gray boulder to conceal sat on his haunches and let out a long eerie.
Tax deductible donations may be sent to himself The monster was the color of the howl Jim Johnson couldn t believe his eyes Ron Sackman is a painter living in Man. Coast Community Library PO Box 808 Point fire from the mountain had four black paws or ears He ran for his truck started her up chester The Volcano Incident winner. Arena CA 95468 The library is located at and was ten times the size of a fox and pressed the gas pedal to the floorboard and in the adult division of the 2009 Gualala. 225 Main Street in Point Arena Telephone twice the size of his largest and most fero left the scene trailing a cloud of dust Arts Creative Writing Contest is his first. 707 882 3114 cious neighbor the grizzly bear It was rest The blast from the volcano traveled sev published story. Thank you for your support ing on the top of a large rock The oddest eral miles in a matter of seconds carrying. Summer 2009 The Redwood Coast Review Page,The Last Book Seller. Larry McMurtry s grand obsession,Daniel Barth, Books A Memoir ing done As he points out in Walter Benjamin at the Dairy. by Larry McMurtry so successful as writer and book dealer My method of Queen which covers some of the same ground as Books. Simon Schuster 2008 writing a novel was from the first to get up early and dash writing and teaching involve similar energies whereas writ. off five pages of narrative That is still my method though ing and bookselling can be complementary and mutually. Sacagawea s Nickname Essays on the American West now I dash off ten pages a day I write every day ignoring informing Whether one agrees wholly with this view or not. by Larry McMurtry holidays and weekends I was studying for a doctorate it is worthwhile for writers to consider careers outside of. Simon Schuster 2001 in English but I didn t have to get it and the reason I didn t academia to help support the writing habit Another model. was that I had the energy to get up early and write those worth considering is collaboration Some of McMurtry s. Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen five pages Finishing his writing work early enabled him to best later work the novels Pretty Boy Floyd and Zeke and. Review Volume 11 Number 3 Summer 2009 The Redwood CoasT A Publication of Friends of Coast Community Library in Cooperation with the Independent Coast Observer Kathleen Flowers 1964 2009 See volcano page 2 A Poet Who Flowered Ron Sackman The Volcano IncIdenT A tall tale from the Pacific Northwest oom Sometimes I wonder how many fine writers and artists and musicians there are whose work is

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