Document Type

Book Review


The Mill Valley Literary Review

Publication Date

Summer 2014


Literature and Languages


"Near Sequoia movie theatre in downtown Mill Valley, in the space now occupied by Champagne French Bakery, I shared many lunches with the late, great Marin County writer Gina Berriault. I was her student then (MA in English: Creative Writing, SF State, 1983) and she was my thesis advisor, a one-to-one mentor relationship that did not involve a classroom full of other needy writing students. I cherished this focused attention: all about me. The professor’s long fingers often reached up to move her straight, dark hair away from her face so she could emphasize a point with serious eye contact; her body language was self-contained and knowing, her fashion sense elegant, subdued. At that time, the place was called Sonapa Farms and had more of an oldfashioned coffee-shop ambiance, darker; we nicknamed it “The Dive”; people might even have been smoking cigarettes in there along with their BLTs. My thesis collection was called, what else, True Stories, inspired by my rollicking, dangerous childhood, and Gina Berriault not only took the time to read and critique my overwrought drafts, she showed up, bought me lunch, gave me books she thought I should read, and acted like my writing was worthy of her care and time, the stories mattered, and the thing to do was persevere."