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Coast to Coast

Coast to Coast

A Family Romance

Nora Johnson was a young child when her parents' marriage collapsed. Her father, Nunnally Johnson, the writer, producer, or director of many acclaimed movies, such as The Grapes of Wrath and The Dirty Dozen, remained in California, where he would continue to be a major Hollywood presence for more than three decades. Nora's mother, Marion, a beautiful but unsettled woman, took her to New York to start a new life -- one surrounded by her mother's lovers and eccentric literary friends instead of movie stars and studio heads.

Coast to Coast is Nora's account of a childhood spent shuttling between Manhattan and Hollywood. What emerges is a marvelous portrait of American life in the 1940s and 1950s -- from the movie lots of California to the cocktail parties of the Upper East Side -- and also a touching story of a shrewd, observant girl who would grow up far too fast. Nora shares the colorful details of a childhood spent in privilege, but also captures the painful loneliness of changing schools, four-day train trips from one coast to the other, and never being quite sure of where she belonged. She also brings to life her droll, charming, talented father -- a Thurberesque character in Hollywood -- and her beautiful and erratic mother, a woman who fled the Los Angeles movie colony life but was unable to forget the husband who took her there.

Coast to Coast is a wonderfully written portrait of a fascinating era and a child who came of age in it, who had everything she wanted -- except a place to call home.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 288 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416568094 | 
  • June 2007
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