Fiction. Essays. Gerald Haslam picks up where Mark Twain left off in this career-spanning collection of stories and essays brimming with life--only ... Show synopsis Fiction. Essays. Gerald Haslam picks up where Mark Twain left off in this career-spanning collection of stories and essays brimming with life--only here is Kern County instead of Calaveras, Oildale instead of Nevada City, a great alligator hunt instead of a celebrated jumping frog. And while Haslams's stories entertain, his essays, too, gesture at the sweeping diversity of the Central Valley, the innumerable cultures--both native and immigrant--and the richness of community found there. Haslam looks at problems of racism and a new social class he calls the "downwardly mobile," and he tackles environmental issues that plague the Valley--namely desertification and water scarcity. With an ear for local dialect and his feet firmly planted in his native soil, Halsam delivers wry stories and biting satire that secure him a place in the pantheon of great American writers and earn Oildale a spot on the literary map.