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Elsewhere, California: A Novel
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Published:
Catapult 2012
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We first met Avery in two of the stories featured in Dana Johnson's award–winning collection Break Any Woman Down. As a young girl, she and her family escape the violent streets of Los Angeles to a more gentrified existence in suburban West Covina. This average life, filled with school, trips to 7–Eleven to gawk at Tiger Beat magazine, and family outings to Dodger Stadium, is soon interrupted by a past she cannot escape, personified in the guise of her violent cousin Keith.
When Keith moves in with her family, he triggers a series of events that will follow Avery throughout her life: to her studies at USC, to her burgeoning career as a painter and artist, and into her relationship with a wealthy Italian who sequesters her in his glass–walled house in the Hollywood Hills. The past will intrude upon Avery's first gallery show, proving her mother's adage: Every goodbye aint gone. The dual–narrative of Elsewhere, California illustrates the complicated history of African Americans across the rolling basin of Los Angeles.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
06/01/2012
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781619020832
ASIN:
B00858VRT2

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Citations

APA Citation (style guide)

Dana Johnson. (2012). Elsewhere, California: A Novel. Catapult.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Dana Johnson. 2012. Elsewhere, California: A Novel. Catapult.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Dana Johnson, Elsewhere, California: A Novel. Catapult, 2012.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Dana Johnson. Elsewhere, California: A Novel. Catapult, 2012.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.

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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 18:20:32
Date Updated:
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      • value: relationships
      • value: Friendship
      • value: literary fiction
      • value: romance
      • value: African American Literature
      • value: Urban Fiction
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      • value: Fiction
      • value: mothers
      • value: mental health
      • value: novels
      • value: classic
      • value: marriage
      • value: love
      • value: families
      • value: Short Stories
      • value: mystery
      • value: Drama
      • value: Women's Fiction
      • value: Horror
      • value: Adoption
      • value: magical realism
      • value: Inspirational
      • value: Contemporary Romance
      • value: feminism
      • value: African American
      • value: Chick Lit
      • value: literature
      • value: fiction books
      • value: fantasy
      • value: realistic fiction
      • value: African American fiction
      • value: african american books
      • value: african american novels
      • value: book club books
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      • role: Author
      • fileAs: Johnson, Dana
      • bioText: Dana Johnson is the author of Break Any Woman Down, Winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, and the novel Elsewhere, California. Both books were nominees for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Born and raised in and around Los Angeles, she is an associate professor of English at the University of Southern California. Learn more at danajohnsonauthor.com.
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imprint
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publishDate
2012-06-01T00:00:00-04:00
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title
Elsewhere, California
fullDescription
We first met Avery in two of the stories featured in Dana Johnson's award–winning collection Break Any Woman Down. As a young girl, she and her family escape the violent streets of Los Angeles to a more gentrified existence in suburban West Covina. This average life, filled with school, trips to 7–Eleven to gawk at Tiger Beat magazine, and family outings to Dodger Stadium, is soon interrupted by a past she cannot escape, personified in the guise of her violent cousin Keith.
When Keith moves in with her family, he triggers a series of events that will follow Avery throughout her life: to her studies at USC, to her burgeoning career as a painter and artist, and into her relationship with a wealthy Italian who sequesters her in his glass–walled house in the Hollywood Hills. The past will intrude upon Avery's first gallery show, proving her mother's adage: Every goodbye aint gone. The dual–narrative of Elsewhere, California illustrates the complicated history of African Americans across the rolling basin of Los Angeles.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Lynell George, The Los Angeles Times
      • content: "Avery's evolution -- a black woman trying to claim her place -- is as heartbreaking as it is humorous, powerful as it is poignant, because Johnson so assertively confronts those complexities."
      • premium: False
      • source: Oscar Hijuelos, author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love
      • content: "Johnson's Elsewhere, California is a clear–eyed jam on class, race, and love; sassy yet searing."
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly, starred review
      • content: "In this debut novel, Johnson brilliantly knits the dual narratives together, maintaining a dynamic balance between nimble language and rowdy, vulnerable characters. The real achievement is the honest, compassionate, and unflinching willingness to honor teenage struggles for identity, confidence, and love while listening to Led Zeppelin and rooting for the Dodgers."
      • premium: False
      • source: Michelle Huneven, author of Blame
      • content: "Reading Elsewhere, California, Dana Johnson's luminous, intelligent, linguistically dexterous first novel about growing up in Southern California, made me understand exponentially more about my own state, my own growing up, and the private lives of families in the homes all around me. An impressive, inspiring debut!"
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from April 23, 2012
        Avery is nine when her family escapes L.A.’s gang violence and moves to the suburbs, becoming the only black people in the neighborhood. Feeling alienated, but impressionable, Avery adjusts by way of Tiger Beat, Shaun Cassidy collages, and a mouthy best friend. At 40, Avery has become a visual artist, her rich and sensual Italian boyfriend clearly instrumental in helping her find the self-acceptance that eluded her for so long. This wildly vivid novel unfolds, zigzagging between Avery’s past and present and exploring all the ways in which one continues to both haunt and electrify the other. Johnson, a California native and professor of English at the University of Southern California, introduced Avery in her Flannery O’Connor Award–winning story collection, Break Any Woman Down. In this debut novel, Johnson brilliantly knits the dual narratives together, maintaining a dynamic balance between nimble language and rowdy, vulnerable characters. The real achievement is the honest, compassionate, and unflinching willingness to honor teenage struggles for identity, confidence, and love while listening to Led Zeppelin and rooting for the Dodgers. A prologue that feels forced is instantly rendered unnecessary by the surefire language that explodes with chapter one. Agent: Rosalie Siegel.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        June 15, 2012
        When her father's passion for a better life moved the family from Los Angeles' 80th Street to West Covina, Avery Arlington liked the suburb's "promised stellar living." Now she's not so sure. Avery, once in suburbia, disconnects, pulled toward angst and rebellion by her new best friend, Brenna, yet ensnared by the hard-line rules of her uber-strict parents. Brenna is white, Avery African-American. Also in the mix: Avery's cousin, Keith, flitting between Avery's home and his single mother's house in Victorville--and between trouble and rebellion. The story shifts between Avery's childhood, descriptions and dialogue redolent of the rural south and of the 'hood, and the present day. Adult Avery lives in a Schnabel house wannabe in the moneyed hills of West Los Angeles. Avery graduated from USC--Johnson's comprehension of poor girl among the rich is superb--and satisfied her parents' ambitions. Soon after, she met and moved in with Massimo, an Italian immigrant and successful attorney. Avery holds a business degree, but her passion is art, both painting and collage, metaphorically symbolic of her self-constructed life, "putting together all my pieces of discarded things." As much as Avery's art represents the self she constructed, the shadow of Keith, thief and drug addict, hanging over and haunting her life, represents the oppression of choice, success and failure. Johnson's novel speaks to race, class and culture; white, black, Hispanic and immigrant; the world as it is, and as it should be. Meditative literary fiction, a near-dream-state reflection on the duality of life.

        COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

popularity
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shortDescription
We first met Avery in two of the stories featured in Dana Johnson's award–winning collection Break Any Woman Down. As a young girl, she and her family escape the violent streets of Los Angeles to a more gentrified existence in suburban West Covina. This average life, filled with school, trips to 7–Eleven to gawk at Tiger Beat magazine, and family outings to Dodger Stadium, is soon interrupted by a past she cannot escape, personified in the guise of her violent cousin Keith.
When Keith moves in with her family, he triggers a series of events that will follow Avery throughout her life: to her studies at USC, to her burgeoning career as a painter and artist, and into her relationship with a wealthy Italian who sequesters her in his glass–walled house in the Hollywood Hills. The past will intrude upon Avery's first gallery show, proving her mother's adage: Every goodbye aint gone. The dual–narrative of Elsewhere, California illustrates the complicated history of...
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