From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The culture of California is a Western culture and most clearly has its roots in the culture of the United States. As a border and coastal state, however, Californian culture has been greatly influenced by several large immigrant populations, especially those from Latin America and East Asia. California is much an international crossroads as it is a major hub to the character of the US.
California has long been a subject of interest in the public mind and has often been promoted by its boosters as a kind of paradise. In the early 20th Century, fueled by the efforts of state and local boosters, many Americans saw the Golden State as an ideal resort destination, sunny and dry all year round with easy access to the ocean and mountains. In the 1960s, popular music groups such as the Beach Boys promoted the image of Californians as laid-back, tanned beachgoers.
The gold rush of the 1850s is still seen as a symbol of California's economic style, which tends to generate technology, social, entertainment, and economic fads and booms and related busts.
Notable authors who were either native to California or who wrote extensively about California include:
- John Steinbeck, was widely as a regionalist, mystic, and proletarian writer. A prolific writer, he is one of the best known and read writers of the 20th Century.
- Joan Didion, the author of five novels and eight books of nonfiction
- Wallace Stegner, known as the "Dean of Western Writers"
- Raymond Chandler, who wrote about the dark underbelly of mid-20th Century Los Angeles
- John Muir, who spent years in the Sierras and brought Yosemite to international prominence
- Ken Kesey, a counter-cultural figure; was an American author, best known for his novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
- Richard Henry Dana, who wrote about his 19th Century voyage to California and the namesake of Dana Point
- Dashiell Hammett, an American author on hardboiled detective novels and short stories
- James M. Cain
- James Ellroy
- John Fante, an American novelist, short-story and screenwriter of Italian descent.
- Robert Frost, poet, born and raised (until age 11) in San Francisco.
- Jack London, born in San Francisco.