But Didion and Davis are only tourists in the “empire” of inland California, with a tourist’s ability to be both accurate and oblivious when they write about what it’s like to actually live in San Bernardino, Riverside or the badlands beyond. The road through “Inlandia” (a somewhat awkward designation for the Southern California interior) stops at other accounts of home. M.F.K. Fisher remembers Hemet in the 1940s: “There are many pockets of comfort and healing on this planet … but only once have I been able to stay as long and learn and be told as much as there on the southeast edge of the Hemet Valley.” J. Smeaton Chase wakes to a July dawn in the Mojave, circa 1920: “To lie at dawn and watch the growing glory in the east, the pure … light stealing up from below the horizon, the brightening to holy silver, the first flash of amber, then of rose, then a hot stain of crimson, and then the flash and glitter, the intolerable splendor….” Percival Everett in 2003 defines the “badlands” of the 909 area code: “Technically, the Badlands is chaparral. The hills are filled with sage, wild mustard, fiddleheads and live oaks. Bobcats, meadowlarks, geckos, horned lizards, red tailed hawks, kestrels, coach whip snakes, king snakes, gopher snakes. Rattlesnakes and coyotes. We don’t see rain for seven months of the year and when we do we often flood. In the spring, the hills are green. They are layered and gorgeous. This is in contrast to the rest of the year when the hills are brown and ochre and layered and gorgeous.”

more from the LA here.