Dog Man : The Ruins of California : The Buddha From Brooklyn : My Last Movie Star

the-ruins-of-californa-martha-sherrillThe Ruins of California

I wanted to write about my complicated and charming dad, a man who took the responsibilities of parenthood more seriously than he did the vows of marriage.  After Esquire published my personal essay about him, I signed a contract to write a full-length memoir for Random House. Eventually it became a novel for Penguin Press.

As one of my father’s old girlfriends put it, “nobody would have believed the truth anyway.”

Fiction proved to be the best, and least perilous route, to the truths of my youth and the confounding people who populated it. A great deal of the book is utterly made up, and many characters are composites or completely contrived. But it captures the precariousness of growing up in California in the 1970s, of being raised between two parents and two worlds, bohemian San Francisco and staid suburban L.A., and the improbable persona of my gorgeous, hilarious father.

Voted one of the Best Books of the Year
– San Francisco Chronicle
– The Washington Post


The Ruins of California isn’t for everyone, but I don’t want to know the people it isn’t for. It is for people with broken homes and smashed hearts and extraordinary bravery and gallantry and imagination. This novel is for those who love their families with a terrible love and prize filial piety above all things. Yes, it’s about self-destruction, but it’s really about love – the real thing – about how we get it and how we keep it.”
– Carolyn See, The Washington Post Book World

“A book about