Authors usually don’t try to concoct stories featuring protagonists who lack serious involvement with other characters. Yet California’s Famous Fifty includes six novels featuring one of the most famous loners in American fiction, Philip Marlowe. Readers never learn the reason for his detachment. Other California authors who wrote about loners (even Ross Macdonald, creator of the Chandleresque Lew Archer) explained their protagonists’ alienation. In the following novels the issue of detachment is the center of attention:
1. The Revels Are Ended [in paperback I Take All] by Robert Carson. A killer just released from prison rejects everything about the world he re-enters.
2. Fig Tree John by Edwin Corle. A desert Indian learns that traditional values have no place in white society.
3. Run Sheep Run by Thames Williamson. A sheepherder endangers his mental stability when he heads into the Sierra with only his flock and his dog for company.
4. November Grass by Judy Van der Veer. A ruminative woman in her early twenties finds ranch animals much more interesting than people.
5. Valley Boy by Theodore Pratt. A ten-year-old in the suburbanizing San Fernando Valley is ignored by everyone but a sea lion.
The books vary in availability. Fig Tree John and November Grass are in print. Of the remaining books Valley Boy is easiest to find online, though internet booksellers have a few copies of the other two. All five books should be readily available through interlibrary loan.