Carolyn See, award-winning Southern California writer, dies at 82

From: The Los Angeles Times

By Mary Rourke7c6fd757-2ded-46ee-88d3-4ce568c0fbc2-666452_462x306

Carolyn See, an author, teacher
and colorful woman of letters whose scrappy humor and survivor’s wisdom spiced her novels about the disaster-prone fantasyland that was her California, has died. She was 82.

She died Wednesday in Santa Monica of cancer, said her daughter Lisa See.

Awarded the L.A. Times Book Prize’s Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement in 1993, See was long established as a leading literary figure of Southern California. She wrote more than a dozen books and received a Guggenheim Fellowship; taught creative writing at UCLA; was a regular book critic at the L.A. Times and the Washington Post; served on the board of PEN Center USA West; and was the mother of the best-selling novelist Lisa See.

Born Carolyn Penelope Laws in Pasadena Jan. 13, 1934, Carolyn See wrote of the Southland with a native’s intimacy. Her fourth novel, “Golden Days” (1986), brought her the greatest attention. A dark comedy set in Topanga Canyon, where See lived for many years, the story builds around misfits, free spirits and the starry-eyed graduates of self-help workshops. The novel sealed her identity as a writer.

“Carolyn was the defining voice for a certain kind of California experience in the mid-’70s and 1980s,” author and critic Jonathan Kirsch told the Times in 2008. “Others looked at California as a cliché, a broken dream, a joke. Carolyn looked at the same California and saw redemption.”

In “Golden Days,” the narrator, Edith, rails against the powerful men in Washington who seem bent on war and the ruin of her utopia. Then, a lone “crazy” drops a nuclear bomb somewhere in Central America. Edith and her friends see nuclear fallout as the start of a better world to come. They watch for new growth on the hillsides and they survive while others in See’s story do not.

“In its weird way, this may be the most life-affirming novel I’ve ever read,” wrote Carol Sternhell in the New York Times.

See’s most recent novel was 2007’s “There Will Never Be Another You.” She moved fluidly between fiction, criticism and nonfiction.

Her 1995 memoir, “Dreaming, Hard Luck and Good Times in America,” was among of her most popular books. Her parents’ drinking binges, her mother’s nasty snipes and her own wild streak are detailed with humor and understanding.

“Carolyn could be brutally honest, never more so than about family,” author Judith Freeman, a longtime friend, said in 2008. Read Rest of Article Here


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