HarperStudio signs Ken Layne to write book about California

By • Jul 2nd, 2009 • Category: 26th Story, Books

Here’s a little Q&A I did with Ken Layne. I am truly stoked to have acquired his book. 

1) For those who don’t you: Who is Ken Layne?

I run a political comedy website called Wonkette, where I’ve worked since 2006, and write for various publications, and also used to operate the websites Tabloid.net, Sploid and the L.A. Examiner.

2) What is your book about?

Here, we’ve got this nice blurb, the one you made me write: “Ken Layne’s THE LEFT COAST is a history of California’s culture, environment and politics framed by his bravely idiotic solo hike up the entire 1,000-mile coastline of America’s weirdest, most populous state.”

2.2) Why now? I mean, you’ve been approached before about writing a book.

Before this was a book idea, it was just something I planned to do after the completely exhausting 2008 campaign and election. And then I started thinking about how nice it would be to collect strange tales and stories at such a leisurely walking pace, in this fantastic setting with the pounding Pacific and the beach towns, the enclaves of the ultra-wealthy and camps of the homeless, the stretches of wilderness and military bases and railroad track, Mexican drug shipments rolling ashore on lifeboats, toxic harbors and sewage lagoons, and a million-dollar ocean sunset every day.

That’s a hell of a lot more fun than any other book project I’ve proposed or had suggested to me in the past.

3) Do you think your book will be written up in an article about the blog to book phenom? (That’s a joke, kind of.)

My timing is never good with these online fads, so probably not. Here is a true fact: I was the first historical human to cover the presidential nominating conventions, in Philadelphia and Los Angeles in the summer of 2000, as a damned Blogger. But nobody knew what blogging was, at the time, so I completely missed the historical 2004 election first covered by Bloggers.

Anyway, THE LEFT COAST isn’t a spinoff of a blog. I have, however, considered writing a fictional (or is he?) sidekick LOLcat character — constantly sending twee confessional postcards to himself (via Twitter), and just eating so much lasagna, and this is why he’s fat.

4) Tell me about David Geffen and his coastline.

I should not speak for David Geffen, because he has a clone army of lawyers, but published reports suggest that he would prefer California’s magnificent public oceanfront, which is supposed to be available to one and all, to be his coastline. For decades, Geffen fought access along a narrow corridor alongside his Malibu house — even though he accepted that corridor as part of a deal to expand the seaside mansion back in 1983.

In 2005, Geffen finally lost and the gates were unlocked. He’s not unique for wanting privacy at his beachfront house. His wealthy neighbors –  including my old boss, former L.A. mayor Richard Riordan — just want to keep the unwashed hordes and TMZ paparazzi off their beach.

Unfortunately for them, it’s not their beach at all. The socialist republic of California is not like Martha’s Vineyard or Jamaica, where the best beaches are private. We have coastal access laws here, and the entire shore is public property, up to the high tide mark at minimum.

Anyway, as my path runs from Mexico to Oregon, roadside access through a wall of Malibu mansions isn’t an issue. But it’s a regular conflict here because the rich and powerful and famous love to make their homes by the ocean, and the other 37 million Californians are mostly packed against that same beloved coast.

HarperStudio will publish Layne’s book in 2010.

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  • http://robertwahl.blogspot.com/ Haste yee back ;-)

    California is a State of Mind, not a geographical area!

    Haste yee back ;-)

  • john c english

    i have to disagree: california is a geophysical location. you can see it on a map. california is not nyc, maine, alabama, pureto rico, japan or france. california sits in a specific place on the planet with a certian relationship to sun and ocean. which means its also a collection of climates and micro climates that will, given time, melt even the most fridgid Northeasterner while suggesting the purchase of sunglasses…and a new car. the “west” however, may very well be a state of mind…or, rather, many states of many minds.

    also, the california coastline is not representitive of california as a whole. its a really big place. approching the size of texas and alaska. bigger than france. fatter than chile. and far more heterogenious than any of these places. only the city folk and the really loud “celebrities” who are typically not from california are the wacko leftists the garfield loving eastcoast wonk seems biased toward.

  • Jack D Spanish

    Funny john, this “garfield loving eastcoast wonk” lives smack in the middle of the hetero california about which you speak.

  • http://robertwahl.blogspot.com/ Haste yee back ;-)

    Dear john c,

    My wife and I lived in CA for 34 years… San Francisco, Half Moon Bay – LATE 60′s EVEN! Obviouslly, you missed the really good times, sorry for you! (BTW, Garfield lives in a hay bail at the buffalo paddock in Golden Gate Park. john c, all ya got to do – is believe)!

    Haste yee back ;-)

  • E

    Mr Layne is New Orleans born & lives in our lovely, almost but not quite spoiled desert called Mojave. I for one eagerly submit to our New Orleandian overload.

  • Paris Biltong

    Maria Belen Chapur beckons?