Coming of Age in California

Publication Date: 
1990, 2000


Named to the San Francisco Chronicle's readers' list of the 20th Century's top 100 best non-fiction books from the West.

These intensely personal essays by Gerald Haslam, dealing with everything from dogs to cancer, follow this fifth-generation Californian from a blue-collar boyhood to a white-collar manhood, as he experienced both the uniqueness of place and the universals of family, friends, love, and aging. These essays explore actual people and places as they influenced this popular California writer.

Reviewer Comments

"This is not a literary biography, but a revelation of self in public confession, without guilt, of humble beginnings that produced a brillant literary man."
     — Floyd Salas

"Haslam celebrates his California heritage ... with affection, and understanding."
     — Wayne Saroyan, The San Francisco Chronicle

"...a touching and honest book by a great California writer and thinker."
     — Dale Walker, The Rocky Mountain News

"In revealing himself, the author also inevitably unfolds his backdrop, the terrain for these essays -- California itself."
     — Holly Johnson, The Sacramento Union

"His lucid, crisp prose punctuates the struggle to find something special about his state -- and his own experience in it."
     — Len Fulton, Small Press Review


Coming of Age in California was first published by Devil Mountain Books in 1990, and in 2000 they released an expanded second edition with seven new essays. Devil Mountain Books is no longer in business; but copies of Coming of Age in California are available through Amazon as either the original book, or as an eBook [Click Here!].

This book actually had three editions. When copies of the first edition, printed in 1990, ran low enough for a reprinting, the editor at Devil Mountain Books, Clark Sturges, took it as an opportunity to change to a larger typeface on the cover because he hadn't liked the smaller one originally used. As long as he was making that change, Sturges figured he should ask Gerald Haslam if there was anything he wanted to change/correct before the reprint... and Haslam asked if he could add the essay "Growing Up at Babe's" to the book. The new essay was added, the type on the front was made larger, and the words "Revised Edition" were added to the cover for the 1993 reprint. So, while the re-issuing of the book in 2000 -- which added seven new essays -- is refered to as the 'second edition,' technically it's actually the third!