PROGRAM 1: October 3, 1999
Ishi in Two Worlds: A Biography of the Last Wild Indian in North America, Theodora Kroeber
Guests: Professor Stephen Shackley, Hearst Museum of UC Berkeley; Ursula LeGuin, author; Valerie Smith (historian, UCLA); Don Blake, editor of the Opportunity Bulletin in Oroville, CA, where Ishi first appeared and a lawyer who helped Native American Al Angle locate Ishi's brain at the Smithsonian Institute.
This is a moving biography of the only survivor of a northern California tribe who turned up near-death outside a white settlement near the town of Oroville, California in 1911. Ishi was taken in and cared for by anthropologists Thomas Waterman and Alfred Kroeber, whose wife wrote the book after his death in 1960. This is an important glimpse into the old lifeways of Native America, and raises important issues about our treatment of native peoples in general, while documenting the life of Ishi, who went from living a Stone Age style existence to a modern, urban life in San Francisco for five years before his death in 1916.
PROGRAM 2: October 10, 1999
Ramona, Helen Hunt Jackson
Guests: Philip Brigandi, historian for the Ramona Pageant; Tim Schiffer, curator of the Ventura Museum who curated a Ramona show earlier this year; Valerie Mathes, author of Helen Hunt Jackson and her Indian ReformLegacy.
An epic tale of star-crossed love set in southern California in the 19th century during a time of tumultuous change and transition, as immigrants from the U.S. usurped Native American and Mexican lands, lifestyles, and traditions. Written by an outspoken social reformer and champion of equal treatment for American Indians, Ramona is considered a classic period piece and the first southwestern novel.
PROGRAM 3: October 17, 1999
Ordeal by Hunger: The Story of the Donner Party, George R. Stewart
Guests: Ken Lincoln, professor of Native American Literature & Literature of the West at UCLA; Blake Allmendinger, Scholar of American West at UCLA; a Los Angeles High School English teacher and her 13-year-old daughter who read the book in class this year.
The definitive history of the ill-fated Donner Party, emigrants to California from Illinois in 1846-47, whose ordeal trying to cross the High Sierras in mid-winter the author calls "the most spectacular in the history of western migration." This is an astonishing account of hope and hardship and what so-called civilized human
beings will do to survive, from memorable acts of courage to selfishness, violence, and cannibalism.
PROGRAM 4: October 24, 1999
Angle of Repose, Wallace Stegner
This magnificent novel is the story of four generations of an American family. The narrator is an historian trying to reconstruct the lives of his grandfather, a die-hard, taciturn adventurer and mining engineer, and his grandmother, a well-bred Quaker lady who never took to her husband's harsh life in mining camps and on the range. Beautifully observed, and rich in the dramatic history of the settling of the American West, this novel won the Pulitzer Prize in 1971.
PROGRAM 5: October 31, 1999
The Octopus, Frank Norris
Reminiscent in tone of Emile Zola's Germinal, The Octopus is a turn of the century epic of wheat farmers in the San Joaquin Valley struggling against the rapacity of the all-powerful Pacific and Southwestern (i.e. Southern Pacific) Railroad. The company controls the local paper, the land, the legislature, and even the farmers' own representative on the state rate-fixing commission. An unremitting tale of greed and betrayal by an author who wrote an impressive series of realistic, socially exploratory novels, including McTeague and Vandover and the Brute.
PROGRAM 6: November 7, 1999
The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
Told through the story of one Oklahoma farm family, Steinbeck's controversial, Pulitzer-prize-winning masterpiece captures America during an extraordinary moment in our history: The Great Depression. The Grapes of Wrath is regarded as one of the greatest and most socially significant novels of the twentieth century, intensely human, yet majestic in scale and moral vision. A California native educated at Stanford University, Steinbeck was also the only California writer ever to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.
PROGRAM 7: November 14, 1999
The Day of the Locust, Nathanael West
Guests: John Sanford, author and friend of Nathanael West, and David Reed, writer and editor of "Sex, Death and God in LA."
Standing out among the many chroniclers of the strange, rootless, fantasy-based life of 1930s Los Angeles--the heyday both of midwestern immigration and Hollywood glamour-West contrives here a fictional vehicle that captures the emptiness and confusion of the uprooted newcomers, and the "bad craziness" (to use Hunter S. Thompson's term) of the world they moved into, and helped to create with their desperate acts of faith.
PROGRAM 8: November 21, 1999
Farewell, My Lovely, Raymond Chandler
Chandler created the archetypal, wise-cracking, hard-boiled, private detective in Philip Marlowe, protagonist here and in many other Chandler novels. Here, in what is arguably Chandler's best, Marlowe deals with Los Angeles's gambling circuit, a murder, and three very beautiful but potentially deadly women. The continually twisting plot, which involves a stolen jade necklace, various drugs, a brutal ex-convict searching for his old flame, and a surprising final revelation, is in the end less important than Chandler's indictment of a careless and dishonest society, and his vivid portrait of Los Angeles in the years preceding World War II.
PROGRAM 9: November 28, 1999
On the Road, Jack Kerouac
Guests: Ruben Martinez, journalist and author, and Lewis McAdams, journalist, poet and film-maker.
This diary of a cross-country, bohemian odyssey is considered the anthem of the Beat movement, and the most famous of all of Kerouac's works. Thinly disguised autobiography, it is filled with a cast of Kerouac's real-life friends, lovers, and fellow travelers. A defense of impulsive living, existential protest and spiritual quest, On the Road has penetrated into the deepest levels of American thought and culture, and influenced many writers and artists since its publication in 1957.
PROGRAM 10: December 5, 1999
Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Joan Didion
Guests: Authors Carolyn See and David Littlejohn
Didion's collection of twenty essays about California culture in the mid-1960s is a fractured, highly personal, yet classic evocation of the lives of "some dreamers of the golden dream." It is also a prime example of the "New Journalism" style popular at the time that combined memoir and reportage, another of whose proponents was Tom Wolfe.
PROGRAM 11: December 12, 1999
The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, Maxine Hong Kingston
Guests: Maxine Hong Kingston, author; King-Kok Cheung, UCLA professor of English and Asian American Studies; Hisaye Yamamoto and Joy Kogawa.
In this pungent, beautifully written, highly acclaimed memoir, Maxine Hong Kingston, a first-generation Chinese-American, recounts her childhood struggle to reconcile and understand her dual identities, and the two very different sets of rules she encounters every day in the "solid America" of her birth and the China of
her mother's "talking stories."
PROGRAM 12: December 19, 1999
Pocho, Jose Antonio Villareal
Guests: Professor Marta Sanchez (UC San Diego) and StoryLines America California consultant and author Raymund Paredes.
With remarkable language and memorable characters, this Depression-era story set in a working class barrio of suburban San Jose, California, describes a young Chicano's coming-of-age and search for identity. The young man is torn between his loyalty to his immigrant family's Mexican traditions and his attraction to the new, exciting life offered by his gang-oriented peers.
PROGRAM 13: December 26, 1999
Twilight--Los Angeles, 1992: On the Road, A Search for American Character, Anna Deavere Smith
Guests: Author Jervy Tervalon and Dorinne Kondo who was a dramaturge for Twilight
As in her previous projects, Deavere Smith combines here a number of genres: drama, journalism, reportage, performance art, and ethnography to create a stunning work of "documentary theatre." She explores the devastating human impact of the Los Angeles riots, which she recounts verbatim in the words of people who experienced them.