RARA-AVIS: Cali and quakes

From: Carrie Pruett ( pruettc@hotmail.com)
Date: 07 Sep 2001

> "The Cracked Earth" by John Shannon - lots
>of earthquake stuff in there - was the latest (actually I wonder why anyone
>would live there)

Carrie, I think you've actually listed most of the reasons we DO live here - and quite a few of the reasons writers are drawn to write about this place. We have the best natural special effects in the country and the newspapers are chock full of gnarly story material. What's not to love?


Point taken. I was really struck in the Shannon book by how the Angelenos took the aftershocks in stride. I don't know how true-to-life this was, but it has to be to some degree - because, as mentioned, people actually do still live there. Here in Virginia, where all the milk flies off the shelf as soon as anybody whispers "snow" it's hard to conceive of voluntarily living in a place where the earth might just crack open under you without warning. I wonder about the correspondence between the WWII/Cold War era and the population shift to California. Maybe if you grew up accepting that Europe was in flames or the the Russians could blow you off the face of the earth any instant, the relative risk of quakes didn't seem so scary. Still, in the South we like the earth to stay put. Of course, there's my dad's cousin who migrated to Southern California in the 80s and came back east in the mid-90s cause he was scared of the big one. Came back and settled in Tennessee right over the New Madrid fault, to be precise - but that one hasn't done anything for a while so he feels safe, like the campers on Mount St. Helens I guess. So one of these days the Southeast is gonna have the Big One and the Californians are gonna laugh their heads off, hey?

Well, speaking of, what other LA writers have incorporated quakes or other natural disasters? I remember Connelly writing about quake damage to Harry's house in the Last Coyote, and Crais talking about fires and mudslides in "LA Requiem."

It's a crazy place, and I'm really enjoying all the comments; Kerry, your comments about the mythic and real significance of LA in American culture are very intriguing and, I think, dead on. Thinking, however lame this makes me, of the Eagles song "The Last Resort" (no, not Hotel California, I won't be that obvious" - the title describing what LA is in more ways than one.


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