One of the things I noticed when reading The Gold Coast by Kim Stanley Robinson is how big a role the setting being in California is. The Gold Coast idea in itself is saying that the people should head to California because it is filled with gold and that meant opportunity, California seems to be mystified in perfection by a lot of people. Throughout The Gold Coast there are passages about the history of California, usually they end on some negative note, which comes from that being Jim’s explanation of one more step towards the California as it is in his world. Before they are negative there is almost always a positive idea of what California is, shown in the excerpts.
Jim several times has this realization or appreciation of the idea that California, or in his case OC means perfect. Something that struck me early in the book was when Jim first introduced Virginia, and how much he loved her. It seemed to be an almost throwaway line. “Of course everyone is beautiful these days, we’re in California after all, but for Jim, Virginia Novello is it” (30-31). This everyone is beautiful, especially in California is reinforced later when Hana goes to meet Jim’s friends, Jim compares the difference in appearance of Hana and Virginia and “two dozen perfect examples of the Modern Californian Woman.”
The final thing that I noticed in the book was the prevalence of what California and OC culture (for lack of a better word) is. When Jim and his friends go travel they are constantly struck by how everything is the same as the OC. They even stay focused on it when it came to comparisons. Later, When Jim is thinking of describing OC it explicitly comes to him. “It’s OC Jim is concerned with. Orange County, the ultimate expression of the American Dream. And there aren’t any great individuals in OC’s history, that’s part of what OC means, what it is” (261). That last part just seemed like some form of defense for himself not have to work but the idea that what the book explain is to be the American Dream seems pretty prevalent.
This fascination of the OC, or California in general as being representing the American Dream made me realize how much media really emphasizes this point. One sees commercials for tourists to come to California. It is mostly painted as an ideal place. The other major one is the music. There are absolutely tons and tons of songs about California or the type of people that are there. There are many just about wishing for California or it not living up to expectations.
Robinson, Kim Stanley. The Gold Coast. New York: Tom Doherty Associates, 1988. Print.
kuruatin. “Albert Hammond – It Never Rains in Southern California.” Online video clip. Youtube. Youtube, 11 June 2006. Web. 28 Oct. 2016.
kyleburgers66. “Tom Petty – California”. Online video clip. Youtube. Youtube, 11 Jan. 2011. Web. 28 Oct. 2016.