From The Desk Of Luther Russell: “California: A Literary Chronicle” By W. Storrs Lee

You might not know Luther Russell by name, but you’ve probably heard music he’s made with the likes of Jakob Dylan (Wallflowers), Jody Stephens (Big Star), Brian Bell (Weezer), Ethan Johns (Emmylou Harris, Ryan Adams) and countless others. Selective Memories: An Anthology, out February 23 on Hanky Panky, is a two-CD compilation of Russell’s material that’s a stellar introduction for newcomers to this musician’s musician. Russell will be guest editing all week.

Russell: This is a beautiful compendium of classic authors’ reflections or fiction writing on the subject of California. It was published in 1968, and I found it in an antique store here in Pasadena, where I now live. Among the literary greats littered about this collection to have their say about the Golden State are Robert Frost, Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, William Saroyan, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Louis Stevenson and many more. Speaking of Robert Louis Stevenson, I gravitated toward his short non-fiction story immediately, for I had at one time attended the high school in Northern California bearing his namesake. In this tale, called “The Silence Of Silverado,” he tells the story of joining the woman he loves, Fanny Osbourne, in Silverado where they spend their honeymoon as squatters in a ghost town, living in an abandoned goldmine. Needless to say it seemed to me like the most romantic thing in the world. As Lee states, “It was the kind of eerie but enchanting hideaway that suited Stevenson’s nature to perfection.” And there are so many other magnifienct musings on my home state in this very special book.