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Cyril Connolly

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  • Discoveries

    Jesse's Ghost by Frank Bergon (Heyday: 224 pp., $20) It's a short drive north from Los Angeles to California's San Joaquin ValleyCentral same time zone, same state, but you might as well be traveling to another planet. Central California is a place that has had its own heart torn out to feed the rest of the country — ranches and fields have long since been denuded and propped up with fertilizers and pesticides, and the history of labor — the pickers, ranch hands, farmhands from all over the world but mostly Mexico — is documented in articles and books. Frank Bergon finds beauty in the valley, and not through artifice. He sticks to his main character, Sonny, like glue; breathing in his body as he tells the story of how, decades ago, when he was 27, he shot his best friend, Jesse, over a woman. There is huge insight here into the lives of valley workers — the tools they use, what they eat for lunch, what they drink and how they fight and flirt. Also how they die, from malathion poisoning, or alcohol, or diabetes.
  • Forgotten treasures of the last century, from 25 writers

    In 1999, the L.A. Times asked dozens of writers to look back at the prior century and share books they considered lost treasures -- books they loved that had slipped out of sight. Although the authors were formidable -- including...