Thursday, April 16, 2009

James D. Houston: Farewell

There's much to say about James D. Houston, novelist, memoirist, teacher, musician - but words fail me tonight as the news of his death sinks in. Jim was one of the good guys.

Al Young and Jim Houston play the Follies as the two-man Granite Chief Quartet. Squaw Valley 2007. They're probably singing "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" or "Is You Is or Is You Ain't my Baby."
From Elaine Woo's Los Angeles Times obituary:
"Whether in fiction or nonfiction, few writers have more consistently addressed the enduring issues arising out of the California experience than James D. Houston," said California historian and USC professor Kevin Starr. "For those of us writing about the Golden State, he set standards by which the rest of us judged our own efforts."
To read the rest, click here.
In the New York Times, William Grimes writes:
Mr. Houston lived his entire life in California, most of it in Santa Cruz. The state provided the setting for nearly all his novels and the material for the nonfiction work “Californians: Searching for the Golden State,” and Mr. Houston evoked, with pinpoint precision, its redwood forests, farms and wild coastline, as well as its restless population of faddists and dreamers.

He was just as familiar with Hawaii. A passion for that state and its culture was born when his father, after being stationed there with the Navy, brought home a ukulele and a steel guitar, and Mr. Houston later explored Hawaii in several novels and in nonfiction works on surfing and Hawaiian music.

To read the rest, click here.
Andrew Tonkovich, host of KPFK's weekly book show Bibliocracy, plans to re-broadcast last year's interview with Houston on the publication of his career-defining collection of essays, memoir and short stories, Where Light Takes its Color From the Sea (Heyday Books, 2008). It has been tentatively scheduled for Monday April 27 at noon.

Bibliocracy airs on Mondays at noon on 90.7 FM.

Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston, co-authors of Farewell to Manzanar.

(I have also posted another remembrance here.)


madness rivera said...

Oh Jim!

I was just telling Thedmo and Steve and them that the line I remember best from Jim was when he said to our group, "Brooding is very important to a writer. You have spend a fair amount of time staring out the window."


Lou said...

A sad loss, indeed.

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