Excerpt from California by Edan Lepucki, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

California

by Edan Lepucki

California by Edan Lepucki X
California by Edan Lepucki
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jul 2014, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2015, 400 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Once they were leaving, she kept the baster a secret because she was afraid Cal would say they couldn't bring it with them. They could only fit so much in the car, and before it ran out of gas, they would have to abandon it, carry their possessions the rest of the way. There was so much to carry, they had ended up making multiple trips with their stuff, and then they drove the car in the opposite direction until it sputtered dead, so they couldn't be followed. It was a small miracle that they found their possessions again, piled where they'd left them, unharmed.

Frida had smuggled the baster, like she had most of the artifacts. Cal eventually discovered her other things, but she'd still managed to keep the baster hidden.

She'd initially intended on using it in the afterlife, in whatever way it was most needed. And then, one day, she realized she wouldn't. Occasionally she toyed with the idea of snapping off the tag, which was attached to a string at the base of the bulb. At least it wasn't one of those plastic threads; she used to hate those, how they would leave holes in clothing and require scissors to remove. Those doodads were probably the whole reason America had gone to hell, the plastic seeping poisons, filling up landfills. What foolishness. But she loved the turkey baster precisely because it still had its tag. She loved its newness: the pure glass of the cylinder, its fragility, and the plastic butter-yellow bulb still chalky to the touch. It inhaled and exhaled air like that first time. She had to keep it hidden. It belonged only to her, and the secret of it had become as precious as the object itself.

Frida was tucking the briefcase under the bed when Cal stepped back into the house, ducking to get through the oddly small door. She liked how tall her husband was, and his narrow shoulders made him look even taller: stretched. Every morning he combed his short reddish hair with his fingers; it was so fine that little knots formed at the back of his head as he slept, and he hated it. Frida loved that, and she loved how every morning he woke with crescent-moon bags under his golden-hazel eyes, no matter how well rested he was.

A fine veil of soil covered his shirt and face, and he'd untied the bandanna from his neck so that he could wipe the sweat from his brow. The room filled with the sweet stink of him. Their feet had started to smell—not the vinegary scent that had cursed Frida in L.A., but something fungal and rotting, a bag of dying vegetables. Cal had said they smelled homeless, and she agreed. That's when they brought out their last Dove bar and their tube of antifungal cream. They didn't discuss what would happen when they ran out. Their homemade soap, made from Douglas fir and the fat of vermin, smelled great but didn't actually work.

"How are the traps?" Frida asked.

Cal shrugged and went toward the thermos. They drank coffee once every two months, a treat, and the rest of the time they filled the thermos with water from the well. On the morning after a coffee day, the water absorbed some of the bitterness that still coated the thermos. If the world didn't end, and they moved back home, she would sell it to the cafés, get rich off coffee-water.

Cal filled his cup and drank it in one gulp, his Adam's apple sliding up and down his neck. That Adam's apple. He had once explained to Frida how Plato believed that the soul's parts—its reason, its passion—were located all over the human body. Frida liked to imagine Cal's soul, a sliver of it, residing in his slender neck, the jagged cliff that signified he was a man. He could never pull off drag with an Adam's apple like that.

"I know you think the traps are ridiculous," he said when he was finished drinking.

"I don't. You've built dozens of snares before, and they've worked. Why would I question you on traps?"

Excerpted from California by Edan Lepucki. Copyright © 2014 by Edan Lepucki. Excerpted by permission of Little Brown & Company. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Off-the-Grid Living

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Only Child
    Only Child
    by Rhiannon Navin
    Rhiannon Navin's debut novel, Only Child received an overall score of 4.8 out of 5 from BookBrowse ...
  • Book Jacket: Brass
    Brass
    by Xhenet Aliu
    In 1996, Waterbury, Connecticut is a town of abandoned brass mills. Eighteen-year-old Elsie ...
  • Book Jacket: Timekeepers
    Timekeepers
    by Simon Garfield
    If you can spare three minutes and 57 seconds, you can hear the driving, horse-gallop beat of Sade&#...
  • Book Jacket: How to Stop Time
    How to Stop Time
    by Matt Haig
    Tom Hazard, the protagonist of How to Stop Time, is afflicted with a condition of semi-immortality ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

A nuanced portrait of war, and of three women haunted by the past and the secrets they hold.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The French Girl
    by Lexie Elliott

    An exhilarating debut psychological suspense novel for fans of Fiona Barton and Ruth Ware.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Only Child
    by Rhiannon Navin

    A dazzling, tenderhearted debut about healing, family, and the exquisite wisdom of children.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Beartown

Now in Paperback!

From the author of a A Man Called Ove, a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T I M A Slip B C A L

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.