Literary Travels with Lacee Low… California

John Steinbeck is from California and is one of my favorite authors. I read Of Mice and Men a thousand times and I would love to go to California and explore his legacy. For example, Steinbeck practically discovered Monterey, California—well, not really, but he made the city a well-known landmark in “Cannery Row”. You can visit Cannery Row (the street) and even visit Doc’s Marine Lab, set up by Edward Flanders Ricketts (“Doc” in “Cannery Row”). Tours are available. (Henry Miller also hung out there a lot.)

Robert Louis Stevenson (Treasure Island) also lived in Monterey (Steinbeck actually lived in Salinas, which is just next door). He lived at 530 Houston Street and you can visit—but beware, because people say it’s haunted!

Other literary figures from California include poet Robinson Jeffers, who built the Tor House, hidden away on a rocky knoll overlooking Carmel.

The Eugene O’Neill House (National Historic Site) is located in Danville, California. I don’t really know so much about him, other than the fact that he is a playwright who lived in pretty solid isolation at his Tao House, a 5100 square foot hillside home. He wrote The Iceman Cometh, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, and A Moon for the Misbegotten while he was living at Tao House.

Nearby is the John Muir National Historic Site, in Martinez. He was a writer and a naturalist from the 19th century.

Then, of course, there’s San Francisco, home of the beatniks. Timothy Leary and his posse hung out at the Golden Gate Park, where he coined the phrase “Turn on, tune in, drop out”, while introducing the widespread use of LSD. (I just read The Electric Acid Kool-Aid Test.)

That’s it for now…until next time!

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Top Ten Literary Cities

I can’t find the original article, but here’s a list of the top ten literary cities in the US from Jessica Burkhart’s (fun!) blog. She got her list from USA Today in the book section of the paper.

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Seattle, Washington
St. Paul, Minnesota
Denver, Colorado
Washington, D.C.
St. Louis, Missouri
San Francisco, California
Atlanta, Georgia
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Boston, Massachusetts

I’ve found a few great articles on the literariness (is that a word?) of these cities. This article gives ten reasons why Pittsburgh is a “literary star”. There’s an interesting article in the New York Times which talks about how companies like Costco, Starbucks, and Amazon (all based in Seattle) influence what books Americans read. The article describes Seattle as a town that loves books. That’s nice!

So I’m left with just two questions: Where is New York City? And where is Los Angeles? This article offers proof of LA’s literariness, and do we really need proof for NYC?
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