"San Francisco Chronicle"
"Stylish and fast-paced literary history.... Tarnoff breathes fresh life into his narrative... giving us a rich portrait of a lost world overflowing with new wealth and new talent."
"Tarnoff's glimmering prose lends grandeur to this account of four writers (Mark Twain, Bret Harte, Charles Warren Stoddard, and Ina Coolbrith) who built 'an extraordinary literary scene' in the frontier boom town of 1860s San Francisco....The lively historical detail and loving tone of the interwoven biographies make a highly readable story of this formative time in American letters, starring San Francisco as the city that lifted 'Twain to literary greatness.'"
"Tarnoff energetically portrays this irresistible quartet within a vital historical setting, tracking the controversies they sparked and the struggles they endured, bringing forward an underappreciated facet of American literature. We see Twain in a revealing new light, but most affecting are Tarnoff's insights into Harte's 'downward spiral, ' Stoddard's faltering, and persevering Coolbrith's triumph as California's first poet laureate."show more