My Own Stab at Less Than Zero Many Moons Ago

As an undergrad at what was then Chapman College (today it's Chapman University) I wrote a short story heavily influenced by both the style and content of Bret Easton Ellis. I imagine student "literary" journals of the late '80s are redundantly replete with such Ellis mimicry.

I thought I'd lost my stab at Less Than Zero, a story titled "Me and Dad," until finding a beat up copy of Chapman's literary journal, Calliope II, buried in a box buried deep in our garage, that had published my story. It was the first piece I ever had published. I was twenty. Fall, 1989. Written over one long weekend (in two takes that March) but where oh where was the internal editor! (or Chapman's editor, good Lord!)

And while the story embarrasses me a bit now, I'm obviously not so embarrassed by it as to not scan it in here, now. Terri Brint Joseph, whose creative writing class inspired the story, compared it favorably to Willa Cather's short story, "Paul's Case." I think she was being way WAY too complimentary and generous, but I've obviously never forgotten her encouraging words. R.I.P., Terri.

I'm still haunted by "Me and Dad," actually. Haunted because I've attempted several times these past twenty-one years since writing it, to turn it into a novel. Without success. But I've kept trying. It's a stormy on-again-off-again relationship, "Me and Dad" and me.

Here's an excerpt of an attempt of turning "Me & Dad" into a novel"


  1. Sir, I was going through some old files, and found two poems written by Terri Brint Joseph in the '80's while she was living in Paris. I'm not sure if they were ever published. Your blog indicates that she is deceased. Would you please contact me at: as I would appreciate knowing more about her final years. Thank you.
    Mr. S.R. Rowen

  2. Hello, Mr. Rowen,

    I've emailed you, but thought I'd also copy it here as an homage to the late great Terri Brint Joseph.

    Thank you for your note on my blog. Terri was my advisor at Chapman beginning the winter of '89 and ending upon my graduation spring of '93. I was a student in two of her creative writing courses, '89 & '91. I sure wish I had taken better care of her poetry she passed out to us. I do remember one of her poems being titled, "The Photographer's Image," and the image of "red tiled roofs" is all I recall from that poem.

    Terri started the "Steel & Ivy" Poetry readings series, started in the Chapman art center in '91. I'm pretty positive it ran until her death, which was either '02 or '03, from cancer. I was shocked to hear of her passing, as she appeared active and in good health from what I could gather keeping tabs of her in the Chapman Journal. Other than Steel & Ivy, I'm really not knowledgeable of the last ten years of her life. I thought the world of her. She was encouraging and a firm supporter of student writing. I know she also began the first student literary journal at Chapman, Calliope, which began in '85 or '86. I had the good fortune of being published in it in '89. She was extremely talented, internationally known, as another late great
    Chapman luminary, Paul Frizler, attested, and as you must know, having some poems of hers in hand. At least three of her colleagues still teach at Chapman (that I'm aware of): Dr. Myron Yeager, Dr. Martin Nakell (though he may be out of the country, I hear), and Dr. Mark Axelrod (also out of the country). They were all a tight knit group.

    I remember Terri having invited Dr. Nakell into one of her classes to read from the novel he was at work on. She obviously left a wonderful, lasting impression on me, as I just recently mentioned her on my blog earlier this month, which led you to me. May I ask how you knew her? I also recollect she was quite the Ezra Pound expert, which I imagine
    you're also aware. I know she was married to an archaeologist from one of her poems, though I can't remember the title of it. Though she was divorced by the time I became acquainted with her.

    Do let me know if you have any specific questions; you never know, it may jog my memory and I may remember something I'm not recalling now.

    Very best to you,


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