WEST OF THE WEST: Dreamers, Believers, Builders, and Killers in the Golden State
by Mark Arax
Arax’s new collection has been heavily praised. “The Summer of the Death of Hilario Guzman” has been lauded as an intimate portrait of the hardships of one immigrant family. Down the road in the “Home Front,” right-wing Christians and Jews form a pact that tries to silence debate on the War on Terror. “The Last Okie in Lamont,” the inspiration for the town in the Grapes of Wrath, has one Okie left, who tells Arax his life story. In “The Highlands of Humboldt” old hippies are battling the new hippies over “pollution pot” and the local bank collects a mountain of cash each day. Arax pieces together the murder-suicide at the heart of a rotisserie chicken empire in “The Legend of Zankou.” In the end, he provides a moving epilogue to the murder of his own father.