McPherson leads off women writers series this summer

June 23, 1996
Elisabeth Sherwin -- gizmo@

Six women writers from Northern California are coming to Davis this summer to give free readings and book-signings in connection with a class at UC Davis. The first reading will take place this Wednesday, the following five will be held on Wednesday evenings in July.

They are: UC Davis poet Sandra McPherson (June 26), Cyra McFadden (July 3), Alice Adams (July 10), Donna Levin (July 17), April Sinclair (July 24), and Catherine Coulter (July 31). All the events will take place at 7:30 p.m. at the Alumni and Visitor's Center on campus.

This very successful series began last year when Anne Lamott and others enlivened the summer with personal visits to big crowds at the alumni center.

The speaker series is connected to a summer class taught by Elizabeth Davis of the English department. The course is open to the public and there is still room for additional students. Applications can be obtained from the Office of Summer Sessions, 44 Mrak Hall, UC Davis, Davis, CA 95616 or phone (916) 752-1641.

However, you don't have to be part of the class to attend the free speaker series. Seating for the six events will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Presentations will be followed by the opportunity for people in the audience to ask questions and books will be available for purchase at the alumni center. McPherson will read her poems from a new collection, "The Spaces Between Birds," which represents 28 years of work. In 1967, her daughter, Phoebe, was born with a form of autism. The poems in this collection draw on McPherson's experiences as Phoebe's mother. Interspersed are Phoebe's poems, offering a counterpoint.

McFadden of San Francisco is known for her satirical look a suburban California in her novel "The Serial." She also wrote a biweekly column for the San Francisco Examiner for six years and was a feature writer at that paper. But her best work is her 1986 family memoir, "Rain or Shine," about growing up on the road in the Western United States with her free-spirited parents. Her father, Cy Taillon, was known as the king of rodeo announcers from the 1940s through the 1970s. McFadden, who was born in Great Falls, Mont., will talk about "The Western Sensibility" in her July 3 talk.

Adams will read from her stories when she comes to Davis on July 10. Author of seven novels and four short story collections, this San Francisco resident is one of the most highly regarded chroniclers of what critics call "interpersonal relationships." Her latest novel is "A Southern Exposure."

Levin is the author of two novels and two books about writing, "Get That Novel Started," and "Get That Novel Written." She teaches writing at UC Extension in Berkeley. Her 1987 novel was "Extraordinary Means" and in 1990 she published a mystery novel, "California Street." She also lives in San Francisco.

On July 24 Sinclair, author of the 1994 novel "Coffee Will Make You Black," and her most recent "Ain't Gonna Be the Same Fool Twice," will talk about her work and her tough-talking sassy characters. Sinclair, a native of Chicago, now lives in Oakland. She came to the publishing world's attention in an unconventional way: She read her work in public first, then agents started calling her.

Coulter is described as a mover and shaker in the romance fiction field, a field she defends against flippant or dismissive attitudes. She has written 22 best-sellers in less than 10 years. Her most recent romantic suspense novel, "The Cove," came out in February and a medieval novel called "Rosehaven" is due out in August. She has a master's degree in early 19th century European history. She will conclude the series on July 31.

Students enrolled in Davis' class not only will have the chance to meet these women at the public readings, but they will be able to meet them again in round table discussion groups.

Those discussions are likely to include questions about how and why the women write what they write and whether or not there is an identifiable "California Dream."

As Davis pointed out, this region has produced a lot of material for writers to work with including the Beats of the 1950s, the free speech movement, the Summer of Love, the women's movement and the gay rights movement, among others.

Both men and women will enjoy hearing from and about women writers at this unusual series. Be sure to mark every Wednesday night in July on your calendar.

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