The Famous Fifty might give you the wrong impression from about how California writers view family life. Of the three male authors on the list who take up the topic, two (Steinbeck and Cain but not Saroyan) create some pretty twisted families. The only two listed books by women, on the other hand, offer tales of domestic tranquility. Dig a bit into California fiction, however, and a different picture emerges. It turns out that male authors can and do dream up families in which everyone pretty much gets along and problems are superficial and often amusing. Here are five novels in that category.
1. The Boosters by Mark Lee Luther. Members of a family arrive in Los Angeles in the 1920s and adjust to their new environment in various ways.
2. The Lovely Ducklings by Rupert Hughes. Puzzled parents in L. A. try to cope with their children’s responses to the social changes of the Roaring Twenties. A nice companion-piece to The Boosters.
3. Something Wonderful to Happen by Darwin L. Teilhet. As peace returns to California, a small-town newspaper publisher and his almost wife face sundry domestic issues, some involving their four children.
4. Full of Life by John Fante. A Los Angeles couple deals with her first pregnancy and his meddling parents.
5. Yes, My Darling Daughters by David Duncan. A clueless screenwriter tries to keep control of his teenage daughters.
Of the five only Full of Life is in print. The others are readily available, however, either from internet booksellers or through interlibrary loan.