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Edan Lepucki's 'California' Finds Terror In Our Potential Future

By Jaclyn Bauer in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 18, 2014 7:15PM

2014_08_California_cover.jpg Edan Lepucki, founder and director of Writing Workshops Los Angeles and graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, published her first novel, California,last month. The novel forecasts what the future holds for a population that is reckless with its resources and negligent of Mother Nature.

Co-narrators Frieda and Cal tell the story of their marriage, migration and struggle to survive in a dying world. They begin their tale from the confines of a modest house in the middle of what was once California, after snowstorms have leveled the Midwest. Droughts, mass power outages and oil restrictions have plagued LA and the rest of the world. As the population has slowly dwindled, Cal and Frieda are left to wonder how many survivors are actually left.

Apart from a traveling tradesman named August, who often comes through with supplies and longed for commodities such as garlic and farming tools, Frieda and Cal haven’t seen another human being in so long that they rely on the intimacy of their memories to get them through the distraction of potentially being the last people left alive.

When Frieda discovers that she is pregnant she has an even greater desire to seek out life beyond the borders of the land her and Cal live on. Cal, on the other hand, is resistant to change and is fearful of what the world outside of his self-established home might hold for his family. Finally, at Frieda’s urging, the couple ventures into the surrounding wilderness to come upon a culture that is so foreign to them, they could never have imagined the possibilities of its existence.

Lepucki raises important questions involving ecology, gender roles and love, weaving together themes that are extremely pertinent to our contemporary culture. The novel is propelled forward by its shock value and the perversity of events that are revealed throughout the story’s telling. A timely and culturally relevant novel, Lepucki brings to light many of the issues that plague society today and that must be addressed if we want to avoid the reality of California.