| Jun 26, 2011
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.
| Dec 22, 2009
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...