Renée Vogel, Guest Fiction Editor
by Carol Fabricatore, Amy Butler, Christian Clayton
Angeles is a city of storytellers. It's been a mecca for writers
at least since the days when the fledgling movie industry began
to take off and the Westwood campus was in its infancy. Over the
years, L.A. has inspired its share of influential literary figures:
the noir Raymond Chandler, the boozy Charles Bukowski, the laconic
Joan Didion, the apocalyptic Thomas Pynchon. And more than a few
fine storytellers have done time here at UCLA -- Alison Lurie, John
Espey and the university's current literary luminary, Carolyn See,
you don't hear a whole lot about UCLA authors (for purposes of this
discussion we're not counting Shane Black and other wildly successful
graduates of the School of Theater, Film and Television's screenwriting
program). When it comes to novel and short story writers, UCLA,
which offers no degree in creative writing per se, but has an undergraduate
English major with a creative writing emphasis, doesn't have the
same reputation for fostering literary talent as, say, UC Irvine.
But that doesn't mean the campus isn't teeming with gifted fiction
writers, as we discovered when our recent request for stories was
answered with a deluge of manuscripts.
asked members of the UCLA community to submit their best unpublished
short stories for this magazine's first-ever fiction package. And
from the stacks of stories we received, we chose three, one each
by a student, a faculty member and an alum. Our faculty story is
by Greg Sarris, professor of American and Native American literature.
Sarris, who happens also to be a UCLA alum, is one of the campus
writers you do hear about; Read his beguiling story "Monopoly,"
narrated by a scrappy Indian girl who's determined to win, and you'll
understand why. Jamie Callan, who earned an M.F.A. from the School
of Theater, Film and Television, wrote "How
to Do the Twist," an amusing glimpse of life with a lunatic
mother. Current English major Paul F. Irving is the author of "Defiance,"
an atmospheric sea saga of a fishing trip gone tragically wrong.
stories are not about UCLA in a literal sense. There are no scenes
of steamy trysts in Kerckhoff Hall, no horrifying tales of students
gone missing while searching for a parking spot on campus. Rather
than looking for plots relating directly to the university experience,
we sought interesting sensibilities, distinctive voices. UCLA inevitably
informs each of these stories, behind the writing. L.A. literary
icon Aldous Huxley once said: "Experience is not what happens to
a man. It is what a man does with his experience." Here's what three
exceptional UCLA writers have done with theirs.