THE TOP TEN Writers San Francisco
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Adventurer and author of frontier tales such as White Fang, The Sea Wolf, and The Call of the Wild, Jack London (1876-1916) grew up in Oakland. There a museum of his memorabilia is housed in a reconstruction of the log cabin he lived in while prospecting for gold in the Yukon Territory. His fiction is based on his experiences in the untamed West and the social inequality he saw in a boom town San Francisco.
The author of The Maltese Falcon and creator of the classic hard-boiled detective Sam Spade made San Francisco his home from 1921 to 1929. He used the fog-swirled slopes of the city’s hills as the perfect background for his stylish crime stories. Hammett (184-1961) was himself employed briefly at the famous Pinkerton Detective Agency.
Gertrude Stein & Alice B. Toklas
Stein (1874-1946) was raised in Oakland, Toklas (1877-1967) in San Francisco, and both were members of the wealthy Jewish bourgeoisie that has placed such an important part in the city’s cultural life. But these two larger-than-life soon deserted the Bay Area for Paris, where they became Queen Bees of a circle of brilliant international artists and writers, l including Pablo Picasso and Ernest Hemingway.
Arriving from New York in 1947, it was Kerouac (1922-69) who coined the term “Beat.” He and his companions – Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and others – initiated the new politics of dissent and free love, all which led, within a decade, to the Hippie Movement. His classic novel On the Road (1957) galvanized a generation.
Ginsberg (1926-97) cleared the way for the eventual Gay Liberation Movement by openly declaring his homosexuality in his literary milestone Howl, first unveiled to the public in 1955. His epic poem soon attracted charges of obscenity in the buttoned-down, witch-hunting 1950s. Ginsberg’s spiritual mysticism also set the tone of the Hippie Movement.
Maupin’s Tales of the City were serialized in the San Francisco Chronicle before being published in book form. They are lighthearted paeans to the idiosyncrasies of gay San Francisco in the 1970s, before the specter of AIDS changed everything.
African-American feminist and dedicated San Franciscan, Walker’s novel The Color Purple (1985) set the tone for a new vision of black heritage, as seen from a woman’s point of view.
A Stanford professor of creative writing, Stegner’s novel Angle of Repose won the Pulitzer Prize in 1972.
When Tan’s Th Joy Luck Club (1989) hit the scene, San Francisco’s Chinese community at last found its voice. It illustrated Chinese culture and its clash with uprooted Americana.
Steele’s “bodice-rippers” have had such success that she can now afford to be mistress of the very finest Pacific Heights mansion.
[source: Top Ten San Francisco ]
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