Monday, October 19, 2009

Steve Erickson's West Coast Dreams

THE recent release of "a new literary history of america," has gotten me thinking again about longtime LA writer steve erickson. this fascinating volume, edited by greil marcus and werner sollors, includes a brilliantly counter-intuitive essay by erickson, which manages to wrap thomas jefferson and john adams around the songs of stephen foster. (he was born on the day in 1826 on which those two died.)

here is my profile of erickson, around the publication of his novel "zeroville." the book is one of my favorites of his -- set around the time of the manson killings and the emergence of the "easy riders, raging bulls" generation of american filmmakers, and both captures and undermines the myth of the 1960s and '70s.

as a novelist, of course, erickson is often likened to thomas pynchon, tho his work is more obviously anti-realistic. he was drawing from some of the techniques of magical realism before that style became overexposed, and he was an early champion of philip k. dick.

erickson tells me he is hoping to finish his next novel in 2010.

the question of why erickson is not better known outside california has interested me for two decades. his work may simply be too rooted in the clash of reality and surrealism, the confusions of artifice and a disappearing past, that baffles the rest of the world but that we angelenos take for granted.

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