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Gerald Haslam

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Title: Gerald Haslam  
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Subject: Oildale, California, Fred Haslam, Heyday Books, Garces Memorial High School, Bakersfield College, Haslam (surname)
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Gerald Haslam

Gerald William Haslam (born March 18, 1937) is the author credited with having created an awareness of "the other California" (in a book of the same name), the state's untrendy small town and rural reaches. A native of Oildale in the Bakersfield area, Haslam has often written about the Great Central Valley (also in a book of the same name), about country music (Workin' Man Blues), about the despair and exultation of blue collar people in a golden state (That Constant Coyote, Condor Dreams, Straight White Male, etc.), winning numerous literary awards. Most recently he (and wife Janice E. Haslam) have examined the life of another maverick, Senator S. I. Hayakawa (In Thought and Action: The Enigmatic Life of S. I. Hayakawa). Reviewer David Peck labeled him "the quintessential California writer." [1]

Early life and education

Haslam was born in Bakersfield, the son of an oil worker. Growing up in nearby Oildale, he attended public schools, then Garces Memorial High School, before working as a farm field hand, a store clerk, and an oil field roustabout and roughneck. He served in the U.S. Army from 1958 through 1960. He attended Bakersfield (Junior) College, then San Francisco State University, where he earned a B.A in 1963 and an M.A. in 1965. He completed a Ph.D. from the Union Graduate School in 1980.[2] He also played college football, ran track, and boxed in the Golden Gloves. He is a member of the Bakersfield College Track/Cross-country Hall of Fame.

Career at Sonoma State University

Haslam taught at Sonoma State University (SSU) from 1967 to 1997 as a professor of English. He was a generalist, teaching everything from elementary linguistics to regional literature to writing. Now a professor emeritus at SSU—where he occasionally teaches for the Oscher Lifelong Learning program—he also now teaches for the Fromm Institute for Lifelong Learning at the University of San Francisco, and serves as an adjunct professor for the Union Graduate School. During his time at Sonoma State and after, he published hundreds of articles and stories in both national and regional magazines. He was a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle's Sunday magazine and a Contributing Writer for the Los Angeles Times' Sunday magazine, and a commentator for KQED-FM's "The California Report." His writing is widely anthologized. He is also the father of computer-game innovator Fred Haslam, editor-writer Alexandra Russell, biologist Simone Sawyer, illustrator and anomalist Garth Haslam and herpetologist Carlos Haslam.

Literary Awards

  • 2006 Josephine Miles Award (from PEN Oakland) for Haslam's Valley
  • 2005 Delbert and Edith Wylder Award (from the Western Literature Association)
  • 2004 Certificate of Commendation (from the California Arts Council)
  • 2001 Western States Book Award (fiction) for Straight White Male
  • 2001 Silver Medal (from FOREWORD magazine) for Straight White Male
  • 2001 Carey McWilliams Award (from the California Studies Association)
  • 2001 Certificate of Commendation (from American Association for State and Local History) for Workin' Man Blues
  • 2000 Ralph J. Gleason Award (from Rolling Stone, BMI and NYU) for Workin' Man Blues
  • 1999 Distinguished Achievement Award (from the Western Literature Association)
  • 1994 Commonwealth Club Silver Medal for The Great Central Valley: California's Heartland
  • 1994 Award of Merit (from American Association for State and Local History) for The Great Central Valley: California's Heartland
  • 1994 Bay Area Book Reviewers' Award for The Great Central Valley: California's Heartland
  • 1993 Benjamin Franklin Award (from Publishers' Marketing Association) for Many Californias: Literature from the Golden State
  • 1990 Josephine Miles Award (from PEN Oakland) for That Constant Coyote
  • 1989 Creative Writing Fellowship (from the California Arts Council)
  • 1988 Honorable Mention, SPUR Short Fiction Award (from Western Writers of America) for "The Estero"
  • 1985 Bernard Ashton Raborg Award (from AMELIA magazine) for "William Saroyan and the Critics"
  • 1983 Special Mention, Pushcart Prize (for "The Man Who Cultivated Fire")
  • 1971 Honorable Mention, Joseph Henry Jackson Award (for "Okies")
  • 1969 Arizona Quarterly Award (for "The Subtle Thread")

Community Honors

  • 2010 Commencement speaker, California State University, Bakersfield
  • 2009 Award of Distinguished Service, Yosemite Association
  • 2008 Hall of Honor, Garces Memorial High School
  • 2007 Levan Visiting Eminent Scholar, Bakersfield College
  • 2007 Track & Field/Cross-country Hall of Fame, Bakersfield College
  • 2007 Lawrence Clark Powell Memorial Invitational Lecturer, UCLA Library
  • 2003 Sequoia—Giant of the Valley (Lifetime Achievement Award), Great Valley Center Presidents' Circle
  • 1993 Outstanding Literary Artist, County of Kern
  • 1992 Friends of the SSU Library Faculty Award
  • 1989 Meritorious Performance Award, Sonoma State University
  • 1986 Fulbright Senior Lectureship, Spain
  • 1986 Meritorious Performance Award, Sonoma State University
  • 1984 Meritorious Performance Award, Sonoma State University
  • 1978 "Honorary Okie" from State of Oklahoma

Publications by Gerald Haslam


  • Okies: Selected Stories (1st edition, 1973, New West Publications, 2nd ed, 1974; 3rd ed, Peregrine-Smith, 1975)
  • Masks: A Novel (Old Adobe Press, 1976)
  • The Wages of Sin: Collected Stories (Duck Down Press/ Windriver Books, 1980)
  • Hawk Flights: Visions of the West (Seven Buffaloes Press, 1983)
  • Snapshots: Glimpses of the Other California (Devil Mountain Books, 1985)
  • The Man Who Cultivated Fire (Capra Press, 1987)
  • That Constant Coyote: California Stories (Univ. of Nevada Press, 1990)
  • Condor Dreams & Other Fictions (Univ.of Nevada Press, 1994)
  • The Great Tejon Club Jubilee (Devil Mountain Books, 1996)
  • Manuel and the Madman (Thwack! Pow! Productions, 2000)
  • Straight White Male (Univ. of Nevada Press, 2000)
  • Haslam's Valley (Heyday Books, 2005)
  • Grace Period (Univ. of Nevada Press, 2006)


  • The Language of the Oil Fields (Old Adobe Press, 1972)
  • Voices of a Place: Social and Literary Essays from the Other California (Devil Mountain Books, 1987)
  • Coming of Age in California (Devil Mountain Books 1990; second, expanded edition, 2000)
  • The Other California (Capra Press, 1990; second, expanded edition, Univ. of Nevada Press, 1994)
  • The Great Central Valley: California's Heartland (with photographers Stephen Johnson & Robert Dawson; Univ. of California Press, 1993)
  • Workin' Man Blues: Country Music in California (Univ. of California Press, 1999)
  • In Thought and Action: The Enigmatic Life of S. I. Hayakawa (with Janice E. Haslam; Univ. of Nebraska Press, 2011)


  • (ed.) Forgotten Pages of American Literature (Houghton-Mifflin, 1970)
  • (ed.) Western Writing (University of New Mexico Press, 1974)
  • (ed. with James D. Houston) California Heartland: Writing from the Great Central Valley (Capra Press, 1978)
  • (ed. with J. Golden Taylor, et al.) Literary History of the American West (Texas Christian University Press, 1987)
  • (ed.) Many Californias: Literature from the Golden State (University of Nevada Press, 1992; second edition, 1999)
  • (ed. with Alexandra R. Haslam) Where Coyotes Howl and Wind Blows Free: Growing Up in the West (Univ of Nevada Press, 1995)
  • (ed.) Jack London's Golden State: Selected California Writings (Heyday Books, 1999)

Booklets and Monographs

  • William Eastlake (Steck-Vaughn Southwest Writers' Series, 1970)
  • (ed.) Afro-American Oral Literature (Harper & Row, 1974)
  • Jack Schaefer (Boise State University Western Writers' Series, 1976)
  • Voices of a Place: The Great Central Valley (California Academy of Sciences, 1986)
  • Lawrence Clark Powell (Boise State University Western Writers' Series, 1992)
  • (with Stephen Glasser) Out of the Slush Pile (Poets & Writers Inc., 1993)
  • The Horned Toad (Thwack! Pow! Productions, 1995)
  • An Instructor's Guide to Where Coyotes Howl and Wind Blows Free (Univ. of Nevada Press, 1996)
  • Gerald Haslam in Conversation with Jonah Raskin (Sonoma County Literary Arts Guild, 2006)


External links

  • Gerald W. Haslam page on Nevada County, CA Library site

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