Cruising State: Growing Up In Southern California (Western Literature Series)

Type
Book
ISBN 10
0874172470 
ISBN 13
9780874172478 
Category
Unknown  [ Browse Items ]
Publication Year
1994 
Pages
224 
Abstract
 
Description
"I know it's simplistic," writes Christopher Buckley, "but nine out of ten days all I want to do is drive an old Chevy again, lean back against the wide bench seat, switch the AM radio on to a game, shift that 3-speed on the column, and cruise with the windows down." You can almost feel the sun-warmed vinyl against the shoulder blades as you read this memoir of childhood and adolescence in California, the Golden State, in what now seems a golden time: the 1950s through the early 1970s.

Cherishing a more innocent time and richer environment - a quality of life largely vanished now in America - Buckley vividly re-creates both the physical and social details of being young in that place and time. Buckley describes a bike ride "through a world shaped like a tunnel beneath the overhang of camphors, pine, and oaks," the perfect baseball glove "that would close like a Venus flytrap over any ball it touched," or the required tennis shoes: "If you were a surfer, they were blue." He also movingly recalls the particulars of his own experience: his restless, demanding father; the claustrophobia of a dead-end job at a grocery; and the dawning joy of discovering poetry and his own ability as a writer.

What Buckley calls "the fire at the edge of things" - the blindingly rapid changes in society, politics, and technology - glows brightly throughout the eighteen narratives in the book. Any discussion of these issues takes place in the context of people's lives - either Buckley's or those of his friends - rather than in abstract terms. "Cruising State" is thus a document that is deeply personal, yet ultimately universal, not merely for members of the author's generation, but for all of us. 
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