The Master of Monterey (Paperback)

By Lawrence Coates

University of Nevada Press, 9780874175295, 288pp.

Publication Date: March 1, 2003



The American conquest of California is the subject of Lawrence Coates's remarkable new novel, a tale rich in magical irony, fraught with caustic truths and wrenching insights into the human condition. When Commodore Thomas Jones and the crew of the National Intention land in Monterey believing themselves to be bringing freedom and democracy to the benighted Californios, they discover that history has preceded them, that cruelty, betrayal, greed, and lust are already well established there, and that far from existing outside of history, California is a battleground for several contending versions of the past. They also find that their own limitations and illusions are far more powerful than the message of hope they intend to deliver. The motley crew of the National Intention includes a chronically seasick poet who pens an epic account of the conquest of California without ever setting eyes on the place or leaving his sickbed; a wondrously endowed captain irresistible to all women but seeking only the one who can help him escape the dark truth of his own separateness; and a crafty ex-slave who plans to abandon ship to create a new family to carry on the timeless history of his people.