THE 4TH OF July weekend is summer reading's perfect holiday, the right time for the printed page, a beach chair and a tall, cold drink. It is also, we think, the perfect time for the first Los Angeles Times Magazine all-fiction issue.

This collection of stories brings together five California writers with highly individual voices, all tuned to a West Coast note:

HARRIET DOERR. Her first novel, "Stones for Ibarra," won the American Book Award in 1984, and her work has appeared in the New Yorker and other literary publications. Doerr is 79 and lives in Pasadena. Her contribution to this issue, "Like Heaven," will be published in January in a collection of her early work by the Yolla Bolly Press in Covelo, Calif.

JOHN L'HEUREUX. At 54, L'Heureux has been director of the Stanford Writing Program for the past 12 years. His stories have been published in Esquire, the Atlantic and the New Yorker. "Father," published here, will be included in "Comedians," a collection of his fiction due in January from Viking.

KATE BRAVERMAN. Her novels--"Lithium for Medea" and last year's "Palm Latitudes"--and poetry have won critical praise. "Falling in October" is part of a work-in-progress called "Tall Tales from the Mekong Delta." Braverman, 39, is an associate professor of creative writing at Cal State Los Angeles and lives in Los Angeles.

AMY TAN. Tan, 37, switched from corporate writing to fiction in 1985. Her first collection of stories, "The Joy Luck Club," from which "Rice Husband" is taken, has been on the bestseller list for 10 weeks. She lives in Oakland.

DAVID FREEMAN. Freeman's collection of stories, "A Hollywood Education," was published in 1986. "The Veterinarian's Daughter" is adapted from "The Mirror of Desire," a forthcoming novel about the life and death of Carla Tate, nee Karen Teitel, a child star who grows up to become an adult star. Freeman, who also writes screenplays, is 47 and lives in Los Angeles.

All of these writers are journalists in their way. Their work explains the way we are and the way we live with an accuracy that the facts can never quite convey.

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