Craig Deutsche


This is a collection of short stories called Drifters and Meadowlarks. It is available on and is described in some detail on my website

The stories are set in an isolated valley of central California in the years between 1910 and 1970. The Antiem Valley and its citizens are fictional, although the stories were inspired by a series interviews which I conducted with old-time ranchers in the Carrisa Plains as part of an oral history project. In one story, a young school teacher from the upper society of Los Angeles comes to the valley on a lark but with the passing of time becomes captured by the beauty of the open lands in spite of the hard conditions and rough life there. Another story tells of a young Basque sheepherder who has come to America to make his fortune, but he is unprepared for the difficulties of his transient life and ultimately is destroyed when his fiancee back at home is given away in marriage. The book ends with four linked stories that follow the Hanford family through three generations until finally the difficulties of life cause them to move away from the valley although they remain in spirit.

The land is a major force in all the stories. It is both confounding and consoling. I would like to think that the book has value beyond entertainment. It is a picture of people who depend upon each other, who are connected to the land, and who find strength to endure in spite of isolation and harsh conditions. It is a counterpoint to the sometimes rushed and empty existence that is so common in cities to day. It is also a capsule picture of rural life throughout America in the 20th century.