The Long Valley: 10/16/07
The Long Valley completes my research for Nanowrimo and my participation in the Armchair Challenge. I am so glad I bothered to find a first edition; I loved the book and plan to hold onto it and reread it often.
With the exception of the very silly "St Katy the Virgin" about a reformed pig who can perform miracles, all of the stories take place in the Salinas Valley and in the "present day" (1930s Depression). The book also includes the well known novella, "The Red Pony" which is often times now taught as a separate book; I had to read it in 5th or 6th grade.
Some of the stories are merely snippets, sketches of a moment: a breakfast shared, a snake spared, and so forth. Others are more elaborate and have elements of magical realism: a woman thinks she's a quail, a man is haunted by his nagging wife, an village idiot recounts the events before a suicide and so forth.
All together these stories paint a picture of the Salinas area: its people, its geography, its culture, its beliefs, its sins and its dreams. If you want to learn about this area of California, start with this book.