June 29, 1981 12:00 PM

by Alan Cartnal

Here’s some “new journalism,” where fact reads like fiction. When the mélange works, as it does in a chapter on Rev. Robert Schuller’s drive-in church, it is penetrating: “…even if they came from a hick town, and shopped in mammoth prefab shopping centers, and did their hair all wrong, were faced at home with kids on drugs, and alcoholism, and their jobs were filled with worry and boredom, their troubles would vanish if they believed in the possibilities offered by instant car-culture religion.” Cartnal, a staffer at Los Angeles magazine, is less successful with the bored women of Brentwood, the gay life, coke, rock stars and an Allan Carr party. These all seem forced. The book’s main asset for residents of the 49 straight states: Everything awful you always wanted to believe about California turns up. (Houghton Mifflin, $9.95)

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