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I Am Kate Braverman, Hear Me Roar
There was a profile by Anne-Marie O'Connor in the LA Times of the very arrogant Kate Braverman:

"I'm not just another writer. I don't think people understand my relationship with this city, and they don't understand what I've achieved," Braverman declares, as she sits in Guelaguetza, the Oaxacan mole mecca, near her childhood haunts in Mar Vista.

She's dressed in a black flamenco-style skirt, with black-stiletto-heeled boots, and a long black coat with flame-red trim — a style the San Francisco Chronicle described as "Morticia Addams gone gypsy." Her eyelids and earrings are dusted with gold.

"There is not another woman writer in Southern California who sits between Bellow and Conrad next to Hemingway and Kafka. I have the most literary stature, certainly, of any woman in Southern California," Braverman says — a view that might not be held by fans of such writers as Joan Didion, Carolyn See or Alice Sebold.

"What is the disconnect that has occurred between me and Los Angeles throughout my career?" she asked, as she prepared to unveil her latest book, "Frantic Transmissions to and From Los Angeles," which details the geographical dislocation that she said pushed her away.

Her new book, which just won the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize, traces how the geography of Los Angeles slowly but surely pulls people apart. She describes a city in which freeways qualify as public space, and fail to knit together a city divided by race and class.

It was the lack of recognition that made her leave Los Angeles 10 years ago, she said and an inhospitable geography that explains "why Los Angeles doesn't have a literary scene like New York and San Francisco." There, she said, "everything is within a plausible distance. There you can say, 'I'll go to your reading.' "

In the years since Braverman has been away, a literary scene has coalesced in Los Angeles. Writers who blossomed in Braverman's workshop are now well known in Los Angeles literary circles. Some of her former students, notably Janet Fitch, author of "White Oleander," have become nationally known authors. Many Los Angeles writers freely volunteer their debt to her.

"Of course they admire me," she responds. "They wouldn't exist without me."

"I am in the canon. Those other people will never be in the canon."

I hadn't read her stuff before. I looked up her work and found this short story, Mrs. Jordan's Summer Vacation, which won the Editor's Choice Raymond Carver Short Story Award. She makes the literary stuff work. Few people do. "Arrogance with portfolio," they call that.

Posted by aalkon at February 25, 2006 8:37 AM

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She sounds easy to hold a conversation with. She's probably one of those types you just let prattle on about herself, you just smile and nod your head, and then she extols you for being a good conversationalist.

Posted by: Patrick at February 25, 2006 5:59 AM

Hee hee hee ... well, enough about me. So tell me - what do YOU think about me?

Posted by: Pirate Jo at February 25, 2006 6:40 AM

Terry Castle wrote another hilarious piece about another "great" woman writer with an ego the size of Mount Rushmore:

'Sontag asked B. if she had read The Volcano Lover and started in on a monologue (one I’d heard before) about her literary reputation. It had ‘fallen’ slightly over the past decade, she allowed – foolishly, people had yet to grasp the greatness of her fiction – but of course it would rise again dramatically, ‘as soon as I am dead’. The same thing had happened, after all, to Virginia Woolf, and didn’t we agree Woolf was a great genius?'

Posted by: Lena at February 25, 2006 9:34 AM

You're a better woman than I am. I think she's damn near unreadable--more than Kathy Acker. I don't actually mind all the bluster, as it's entertaining.

And I never understand when writers whine about having or not having a "community". Writers pretty much hate other writers, and having a little circle that festers with jealousy and resentment doesn't seem like the most desirable thing in the world to me.

And as for going to each other's readings--let's drop the pretense. Writers SUCK at reading their own works. Listen to a book on tape read by an actor and then listen to one done by a writer. Heavy breathing, weird emphasis, and usually a voice that drives the listener mad.

Posted by: KateCoe at February 25, 2006 9:42 AM

I am pleased at his opportunity to recommend an author who is not only modest and communicative, but quite skilled:

C. J. Cherryh

Her Wave Without a Shore is superb. Though she writes fantasy and sci-fi, I consider her forte to be future-history fiction, because logical developments occur including the mutation of politics and ethics. You may wish to look up the Merchanter series, in which the tableau is interstellar trade. Significant titles and a brief description of her work can be found at her site:

I have no personal interest in Ms. Cherryh or her work, but if I did I would be proud to say so!

Posted by: Radwaste at February 25, 2006 10:10 AM

"I am in the canon."

Quick, somebody light a match.

Posted by: Jim Treacher at February 25, 2006 10:46 AM

Treach, you're priceless.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at February 25, 2006 10:59 AM

Hey, KateCoe -- Acker wasn't a great writer, but she was a great performer of her writing. I heard her read her work at the Kitchen a few times back in the 80s. She had a fantastic stage presence. (By the way, her "Great Expectations" is an interesting book. The fact that it's only 125 pages long probably helps!) -- Lena

Posted by: Lena at February 25, 2006 11:24 AM

Novelists in particular seem to have a capacity for jealousy. More even than movie stars or athletes, they love to bitchslap the latest boy wonder. Eggers really took a few on the chin a couple years ago, then it was that guy who pissed off Oprah (and then wrote a book about loneliness), then there was the OTHER guy who pissed off Oprah.

Posted by: Crid at February 25, 2006 5:06 PM

But isn't the bitchslapping a big part of the fun of contemporary literature? The nasty pissed-off letters section is the ONLY reason I've ever bothering opening the NYT Book Review.

Posted by: Lena at February 25, 2006 5:30 PM

But... But... WHY?

Are we supposed to want to have sex, or conversation, or even a street-passing, with Michiko Katutani?


Posted by: Crid at February 25, 2006 5:56 PM

"But... But... WHY?"

Because it's fun to watch people get hysterical for stupid reasons. It makes me feel momentarily superior.

Posted by: Lena at February 25, 2006 6:42 PM

Have we got a blog for you!

But... But... The language is so weird. I cop to being a nonfiction guy, but those people are just not normal. Let's play a game! Here, I'll go over there right now and pick out the strangest blurby bit from the front (web) page. Hang on a sec...

...Aw shit, it's a pretty tame week over there. THis is the wackest:

> Part memoir, part meditation,
> Sandra M. Gilbert's brief history
> of dying challenges the notions of
> "closure" and "recovery."

But still, that has one obscure allusion and TWO uses or ironic quotes.

Anyway, you KNOW what I mean. Those people get pissy over the most personal, impulsive and inconsequential judgments imaginable. Why?

Posted by: Crid at February 25, 2006 7:37 PM

"I cop to being a nonfiction guy"

And I'm a nonfiction tranny, for the most part. But when I do read fiction, I like it to be the non-difficult kind. I joined the most wacko-elitist homosexual book club a couple of years ago. I went to only one meeting, because I simply could not bear to slog through another page of Mr Rushdie's "Midnight's Children." It was dreadful. Since then, the fag book club has done nothing but Pulitzers and NYT bestsellers. And about half the guys "haven't gotten around to seeing" Brokeback Mountain yet. Why? Because they're fucking elitist motherfuckers.

Posted by: Lena "Potboiler" Cuisina at February 25, 2006 9:13 PM

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