BOOKS: Lotus Land No More

A writer travels around California, where he lived in 1969, and finds much altered

Bill Barich and his readers had a good thing going. They paid him to do their traveling. He caught the planes, sat out the cancellations, endured bores and bacteria. Then he chucked out all the bad stuff and wrote lovely, whimsical books about the rest: horse racing, trout fishing, quirky people who turn comical, not sodden, after a glass or two. Traveling Light is the title of one of his airy collections, and Barich seems as if he is about to continue with such beguiling folderol as he commences Big Dreams (Pantheon; 546 pages; $24), which records a long meander around...

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