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UCI Grad, Writing on South-Central Teen, Sells 1st Novel

November 26, 1992|DENNIS McLELLAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Jervey Tervalon, a June graduate of the UC Irvine Program in Writing, has sold the hardback and paperback rights of his first novel, "Understand This," to William Morrow/Avon Books.

Tervalon, who now lives in Pasadena, says his book is one of the few contemporary novels dealing with South-Central Los Angeles, where he grew up and taught high school for five years.

The novel's main character is an 18-year-old high school student who witnesses a shooting. He is not, however, a gang member.

Contrary to the media stereotype of the area, Tervalon says, "a lot of professionals live in South-Central L.A., and there are a lot of working-class, or middle-class, neighborhoods right next to the projects. What I'm trying to do is get some sort of portrayal of life in South-Central Los Angeles that isn't 'News at 11,' that isn't reduced to bad people and good people."

Tervalon, 33, describes his book as a "novel of voice and perspectives that portray a patchwork reality that, to me, represents more of what the complexities are of life in South-Central Los Angeles. So there is violence and cocaine, but there is also family and church, and there are mothers and fathers and people that are professional just as well as gang-bangers."

The 14-chapter book, he says, is told in the first-person, but a new "voice" assumes the narrative in each chapter.

Tervalon says he wrote "a really bad first draft" of the novel while teaching high school and rewrote it during his 16 months at UCI. The book is due out next fall.

Meanwhile, the writer has received a one-year screenwriting fellowship from the Disney Co. and is writing the screen adaptation of a novel for Disney's Hollywood Pictures division.

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UC Irvine faculty members Rob Kling, Spencer Olin and Mark Poster have received the Western History Assn.'s biennial award for "the most outstanding book published on the 20th Century American West."

"Postsuburban California: The Transformation of Orange County Since World War II," published in 1991 by University of California Press, includes 10 original interdisciplinary essays by the three editors and other university scholars.

The award was recently presented at the Western History Assn.'s annual meeting held this year at Yale University, which is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its distinguished Western Americana collection.

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Book Signings. Clive Barker ("The Thief of Always") will sign from noon to 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Brentano's Bookstore in South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa. . . . Steven Hendlin ("When Good Enough Is Never Enough") will sign from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at B. Dalton Bookseller in Fashion Island, Newport Beach. He'll also sign from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Brentano's Bookstore in South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa. . . . Mary Kay Cosmetics representative Patricia Schneider will give beauty advice from the "Mary Kay Beauty Book" from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at B. Dalton Bookseller in Fashion Island. . . . Joe Gores ("32 Cadillacs") will sign from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Book Carnival, 348 S. Tustin Ave., Orange. . . . Jina Bacarr ("How to Work for a Japanese Boss" will sign from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday at Kinokuniya Bookstore in Yaohan Plaza, 665 Paularino Ave., Costa Mesa. . . . Steven Kellogg ("Christmas Witch & Mike Fink") will sign at 3 p.m. Wednesday at Lorson's Books & Prints, 116 W. Wilshire Ave., Fullerton.

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Author Talk. Christine Gustafson and Frank Marshall "Ladies & Gentle Men") will discuss "the art of finding a mate" and sign copies of their book at 8 p.m. Saturday at Upchurch-Brown Booksellers, 384 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach.

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Poetry Reading. Poets Tatyana Melnikoff and Steve Folding will read at an open poetry recital at 7 p.m. Sunday at Fahrenheit 451 Books, 509 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach.

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Author Reading. Australian author Thomas Keneally will read from, discuss and sign his books--"Women of the Inner Sea," "Schindler's List" and "Now and Time to Be in Ireland"--at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Upchurch-Brown Booksellers, 384 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach.

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