CSULA Department of English | Subtitle

The following review has been assembled
from the reminiscences of current and former faculty.

have had novelists Wirt Williams, Leon Surmelian, and
Christopher Isherwood, who fictionalized this campus in his
1964 novel A Single
. Dorothy Parker was here as a Distinguished Visiting

Henri Coulette, a Lamont Poetry Prize winner,
graduated from here with a degree in English in 1952 and
returned in 1959 as a professor until his untimely death in
1988. Moving reminiscences of Professor Coulette may be
found in Terry Santos's "Remembering Henri Coulette"
in The Southern Review
(1991) and in the introduction by Donald Justice in The
Collected Poems of Henri Coulette

Bachardy Image of Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker
(drawing by Don Bachardy)

John Weston, professor here
from 1971 to 1994, guided many fiction writers over the years. His
work includes the novels Jolly, The Telling, Hail!
(made into a film), and The
Walled Parrot
, the novellas Goat
, numerous short stories, and prose poetry, and most
recently Dining at the Lineman's Shack, his well-received
memoir of life in depression-era Arizona. Several years
ago, Professor Weston provided the following listing of former graduate projects in
creative writing that were published as books, including some
subsequent works of these authors:

L. Barrett, Short Story One, a collection of stories, and subsequently, Love
in Atlantis
, a novel

Robert Baylor, To
Sting the Child
, a novel

Gene Farrington, The
Breath of Kings
, a novel, and subsequently, plays, Halek
among others

John Haase, The
Young Who Sin
, a novel, and subsequently, The
Fun Couple
, Erasmus with
, The Noon
Balloon from Rangoon
, Me
and the Arch Kook
, Petulia,
Seasons and Days, Big Red,
and San Francisco, novels; The Fun Couple,
a play; and films from books, including Petulia
and The Wall to Wall War

Pat Kubis, One More Time,
a novel, winner of the National Women's Press Association Award
for the best novel by a member, 1962, and subsequently, Ocean's
, a novel, and a post-doctoral project, How
to Write and Publish Fiction and Non-Fiction
, a textbook

Dorothy Miller, Showboat
Round the Bend
, a novel

Darryl Ponicsan, The
Last Detail
, a novel and made into a film, and subsequently, Goldengrove,
Andoshen, Pa., Cinderella Liberty (made into a film), The Accomplice, Tom Mix Died
for Your Sins
, The
, and An
Unmarried Man
, novels; screenplays, Cinderella
and Taps;
originated a TV series, Mississippi;
and authored various TV documentaries

Lillian Powers, The
Rose Tree
, a novel

Judy Romberger, Lolly,
a novel, and subsequently, stories, articles, and plays

Stankevich, Two Green Bars,
a novel

Helena Maria Viramontes, The
Moths and Other Stories
, and subsequently, stories in
journals, such as "Why Women Burn," in Blue
Mesa Review
; and anthologized stories in collections of
American Fiction

Joseph Wambaugh, The
New Centurions
, a novel, and subsequently, among others, The
Blue Knight
, The Choir
, The Onion Field;
screenplays of all novels; and originated a TV series, Police
, for which he wrote several episodes

And there were
other students, such as Carolyn See and Michael Harper, who would
publish subsequently though they did not publish while enrolled at

Being There: An
Autobiography of California State University, Los Angeles

(1987), Joseph Wambaugh encapsulates his experience here:

I don't know if I
could have been a writer without all the reading I had to do, or
if I could have been a human being. This kind of reading is
important. I'm pretty catholic in my tastes; I just read anything
and everything. My college reading gave some direction and point. The
was a kind of poor man's Catch-22.
It was my attempt to approximate in police work what Joseph Heller
did in his great book. It was a serious, horrible story using
gallows humor, but I'm no Joseph Heller. I first read his book in
graduate school.

Finally, there's
the magic. I don't know that I would have ever been bewitched by
the magic of literature had I been left to my own devices, that
is, without the absolutely wondrous atmosphere I found at CSLA.

No matter how tired
I was from chasing crooks all day or night, I was instantly
rejuvenated the moment I walked into a classroom, particularly a
seminar in the Master's program. If I'd never had a word
published, I wouldn't have traded my formal education for
anything. It was nothing less than magical.