Books: Dude, Where's My State?

A transplanted New Yorker tries to make sense of Arnold, Arianna and other exotic Californian fauna

Her nerves jangled by Sept. 11, her husband tempted by a schmancy new job, New Yorker Amy Wilentz pulled up stakes and moved across the country to Los Angeles. What she knew of California was largely derived from Beach Boys lyrics. What she found "felt a lot like the Third World": a state beset by fires, floods, earthquakes, energy shortages, debt and political crisis. "I had arrived in L.A. hoping to avoid catastrophe," Wilentz writes in her new book, I Feel Earthquakes More Often Than They Happen (Simon & Schuster; 322 pages), "only to find that I was living in its...

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