Stephanie 's Reviews > West of the West: Dreamers, Believers, Builders, and Killers in the Golden State

West of the West by Mark Arax
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Oct 04, 09

bookshelves: essays, politics, true-crime, want-to-buy
Read in October, 2009

I loved this. I have such a love-hate relationship with my home state. There is so much beauty and such spirit and such heart...and such plasticity and ugliness and cruelty...

Some years ago, I read "In My Father's Name," in which Mark explores the murder of his father, a bar owner in that hellhole of Fresno in the early 70s. The final essay in the latest book is the epilogue to that story, and is fascinating to watch him continue the quest yet remain a reporter...and the story of the migrant family in the Valley - should be required reading for every Californian...but maybe the one that entertained me the most is the chapter on the Marijuana Culture in Humboldt/Mendocino...it totally captures the good that has come from the economic boom the north coast growers have enjoyed for a couple of decades...and made me wonder, if legalization happens as some predict it will in the next few years, what will it do to the boom? Maybe the 2 essays will come together - there will be agribusiness dope farms in the Valley, changing the lives of the farmworkers, and the culture of Southern Humboldt will change back to more what it was in the 70s when I lived there.

In any case, the title of this one comes from Teddy Roosevelt's quite "When I am in California, I am not in the West, I am west of the West."

It's really well-written, thought-provoking, and entertaining. Loved it!
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