There is far more to the arts in California than the movies. Through 54 probing interviews with prominent writers, composers, architects and painters, Isenberg, a former chief arts writer for the Los Angeles Times, plumbs the qualities of the Golden State that inspire those who were born or moved there. Painter David Hockney talks about leaving drab England for sunny L.A., where he captured on canvas the colors that shimmer across swimming pools. Writer Maxine Hong Kingston discusses how growing up in a Chinese home in racially integrated Stockton helped her learn about different sensibilities. Jazzman Dave Brubeck, who grew up on a ranch in Ione, recalls how he heard polyrhythms in the sound of a galloping horse. As writer and native daughter Joan Didion notes, "California influenced everything about me."
--By Daniel S. Levy