Jervey Tervalon is a name that is known to many in the literary world. And hopefully he will become one of your favorite authors as well.
I asked him earlier this week if I could interview him on his New Orleans heritage and the future of the arts and culture of the great city. But that was after he'd already turned in this great piece in this week's L.A. Weekly about saving New Orleans. So just read his L.A. Weekly piece instead. :-)
I dig Jervey for a number of reasons. One, he's written some great novels, among them -- Dead Above Ground (set in New Orleans, about a woman who chooses bad men), Understand This (set in L.A., about teens growing up amidst violence, uncaring teachers, family drama).
Next, he was one of the first authors in the industry to take me under his wing and support my aspirations -- whether it was a PEN Emerging Voices application recommendation, writing a blurb for my novel Down For Whatever, critiquing my early work, or telling me to think about a M.F.A. or suggesting I participate in Squaw Valley Writers Retreat.
Finally, because Jervey speaks his mind and is totally uncensored in his thoughts and words. I wish I had that quality sometimes. And he turns out great books, mentors tons of young writers (no ego here!), and maintains a busy family and teaching life in L.A. He's a literary superman!
So I was surprised to find that Jervey, once again, had given my novel a shout out on the L.A. Times Literary Blog earlier this week. Very cool.
And he's doing an event that I'm helping to coordinate in L.A. in January -- January 12 at 6:30 pm to be exact. Location details coming soon.
New Orleans Reconsidered: Artists Reflect on Culture and Catastrophe
Hurricane Katrina was one of the greatest catastrophes in the history of the United States. In response to this disaster, several Los Angeles-based writers and artists from the New Orleans Diaspora will come together to reconsider and celebrate the city and culture of New Orleans. Panelists include Jervey Tervalon, author of several books including Dead Above Ground; Erin Aubry Kaplan, writer for the LA Weekly; and performance artist Mark Broyard.
In the meantime, check out Jervey's New Orleans commentary in the latest L.A. Weekly.
And let's keep New Orleans in the news... because I just had some students return from a Service Learning project in N.O., and their take is that "the powers that be" want to turn New Orleans into the next Disneyland or Las Vegas of the South... basically a vacation playland for the rich and the white, and never returning that land to the long-time residents.
I'm sure that's not what Jervey would want his beloved city to become.