Edited by Gayle Wattawa
Heyday, $20.00, 325 pages

Some anthologies tend to be just collections of stories; some are so much more. New California Writing 2012 looks to the heart of California, what makes it special and what emotions are conjured by the mere mention of the state’s name. The stories chosen emphasize that, such as the plight of bridge painters in “Gone, Baby” or “On the Day of the Dead”. Others look at the history of the state, giving faces to ghosts of the past, as in “How It Feels To Inherit Camp”. The poetry is also great, such as the gentle and melancholy evocations of “Approaching San Francisco” or “Ocean Beach at Twilight:14”.

This is a fine collection of poetry and prose, from sources both in print and electronic. The collection covers a lot of ground, both in distance and time, making for a wonderful look at California’s past and present. It is sometimes hard to remember that there is more to the state than earthquakes, budget crises and overpopulation, but this book will remind you of what California means to a lot of people. If you are looking for a fine collection of Californian writing, this is the book for you.

Reviewed by Jamais Jochim