[Zoom event] Hellacious California! With Gary Noy and Steve Wasserman

Wednesday Jul 08 2020   12:00 PM
Zoom  , ,  

In 1855 an ex-miner lamented that nineteenth-century California “can and does furnish the best bad things,” including “purer liquors…finer tobacco, truer guns and pistols, larger dirks and bowie knives, and prettier courtezans [sic]” than anywhere else in America. Lured by boons of gold and other exploitable resources, California’s settler population mushroomed under Mexican and early American control, and this period of rapid transformation gave rise to a freewheeling culture best epitomized by its entertainments. Hellacious California tours the rambunctious and occasionally appalling amusements of the Golden State: gambling, gun duels, knife fights, gracious dining and gluttony, prostitution, fandangos, cigars, con artistry, and the demon drink. Historian Gary Noy unearths myriad primary sources, many of which have never before been published, to spin his true tall tales that are by turns humorous and horrifying. Whether detailing the exploits of an inebriated stallion, gambling parlors as a reinforcement and subversion of racial norms, armed skirmishes over eggs, or the ins and outs of the “Spirit Lover” scam, Noy expertly situates these stories in the context of a live-for-the-moment society characterized by audacity, bigotry, and risk.

Join us for an online discussion of this dramatic and compelling era of Californian history. Gary Noy will be in conversation with Heyday’s executive director, Steve Wasserman, and will present photographs from the era. The discussion will be followed by a live Q&A.

 

Register here: Eventbrite

 

To purchase the book in advance of the event, order here: Hellacious California!

Steve WassermanSteve Wasserman, raised in Berkeley and a graduate of Cal, is Heyday’s publisher and executive director. He is a former editor-at-large for Yale University Press and editorial director of Times Books/Random House and publisher of Hill & Wang and The Noonday Press at Farrar, Straus & Giroux. He has worked with many authors and published numerous books, including, most recently, Greil Marcus’s The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs, Martha Hodes’s Mourning Lincoln, David Thomson’s Why Acting Matters, and two posthumous volumes of the late critic Ralph J. Gleason’s musical and political writings. A founder of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities at the University of Southern California, Wasserman was a principal architect of the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books during the nine years he served as editor of the Los Angeles Times Book Review (1996–2005). He began his career as an assistant editor to Warren Hinckle at Francis Ford Coppola’s City Magazine of San Francisco and went on to become deputy editor of the Sunday Opinion section and Op-Ed Page of the Los Angeles Times (1978–1983) before becoming editor in chief of New Republic Books, based in Washington, D.C., and New York. He was also a partner in Kneerim & Williams, a Boston-based literary agency, and represented, among others, Robert Scheer, Christopher Hitchens, David Thomson, Linda Ronstadt, and Placido Domingo. He has written for many publications, including The Village Voice, Threepenny Review, The Nation, The New Republic, The American Conservative, The Progressive, Columbia Journalism Review, Los Angeles Times, and the (London) Times Literary Supplement.   [Author photo credit: Dennis Anderson]
Gary Noy

A Sierra Nevada native and current resident, Gary Noy taught history at Sierra College from 1987 until 2012. He founded the Sierra College Center for Sierra Nevada Studies and served as its director until his retirement. His previous titles include Sierra Stories: Tales of Dreamers, Schemers, Bigots, and Rogues (Heyday, 2014), which won the Gold Medal for Best Regional Nonfiction from the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, The Illuminated Landscape: A Sierra Nevada Anthology (Heyday, 2010), which he coedited, and Distant Horizon: Documents from the 19th Century American West (University of Nebraska Press, 1999). Visit his website at www.garynoy.com.