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LAF 2019 WLM   LAF 2019 memoirists Swofford and Parravani



11 AM - 12:15PM


William Carlos Williams once wrote “It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.” In this annual, student-favorite event, a panel of Grossmont College students, faculty, and administrators share their moving and powerful personal accounts of the role literature has played in their journeys, advocating the relevance of literature and its potential to inspire change, cultivate humanity, and serve us in, both, personal and global ways.



This year's WLM featured presenters:

  • student Cameron LaZenberry, "Brain Trauma & Literature: Rediscovering Myself through Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon"
  • student Sara Canelon, "Because I See Myself: Latinx Representation in Young Adult Literature"
  • student Melina Gilbert, "The Magical Healing of Fantasy"
  • student Christine Gelastopoulos, "There Is No Wrong"
  • Dr. Oralee Holder, English Dept. Chair, "Why the Poetry of Mary Oliver Matters"

 LAF 23 Why Literature Matters panelPast WLM panelists have included PUENTE students, history professor Dr. Sue Gonda, author and Humanities professor Maria Rybakova, Dean of English/Social and Behavioral Sciences Agustin Albarran, English Department Chair Dr. Oralee Holder, Humanities professor Dr. Pete Schmidt, students Raphael Umphres-Piscitelli, Adilene Delgado, and Grossmont College Creative Writing Program alumnae Cassady Lynch and Felicia Williams.  

English Professor SYDNEY BROWN received her MFA from San Diego State University. Brown has served as Co-Coordinator of the Grossmont College Creative Writing Program, Title V Activity Co-Director for Acceleration and Placement and, beginning in Fall 2019, will wear the mantle of Grossmont College’s Project Success Coordinator.



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7-8:15 PM


Memoirists Anthony Swofford and Christa Parravani read from, and discuss, their latest works. Before and after the reading, books by both authors will be available for purchase and signing. Author Q&A following the reading.


About the Authors


Writer and photographer Christa Parravani holds an MFA in Visual Art from Columbia University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Rutgers Newark. Currently an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at West Virginia University, Parravani has taught photography at Dartmouth College, Columbia University, and UMass, Amherst and exhibited her work internationally and domestically, including with the Michael Foley Gallery in New York City and the Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles.


LAF 23 memoirists Anthony Swofford and Christa ParravaniAn Indie Bound Next Pick, as well as a "must-read memoir" selection by NPR, Oprah and People Magazine, Parravani’s national bestseller, Her: A Memoir, shares the author’s journey through grief after the loss of her beloved identical twin sister, Cara. Raised in poverty by a strong-willed mother and an unstable, abusive father, twins Christa and Cara share an intensely private and creative world between them. However, Cara gradually self-destructs into substance abuse after being raped, and perishes from an overdose. Faced with the statistic that when one identical twin perishes the surviving twin’s rate of dying within the next few years spikes, the author chronicles her battle to avoid her sister’s fate: “My reflection was her and it wasn’t her. I was myself but I was my sister. I was hallucinating Cara—this isn’t a metaphor.”


Vanity Fair praised Her as "astonishing," and Booklist describes Parravani’s memoir as "raw and unstoppable... a triumph of the human spirit." Her: A Memoir was named best book of the year in 2014 by the Wall Street Journal, Salon, and Library Journal. Christa Parravani's writing has appeared in Marie Claire, Glamour, The Washington Post, Salon, The Rumpus, The Daily Beast, The London Times, The Daily Mail, The Guardian, and others. She has been featured in Poets and Writers, in Vogue, on PBS, on NPR's "All Things Considered," and others.


Memoirist, novelist, and poet Anthony Swofford is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and currently on faculty in the MFA program at West Virginia University. His acclaimed 2003 Gulf War memoir, Jarhead, chronicles his time as Lance Corporal Anthony Swofford serving as a Scout Sniper with the STA (Surveillance and Target Acquisition) Platoon of 2nd Battalion 7th Marines. Following his military service, Swofford studied English at Sacramento’s American River College and subsequently earned his Barchelor's degree in English at U.C. Davis. He attended the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and obtained a Master of Fine Arts in Writing. While receiving critical acclaim for Jarhead (adapted in 2005 by director Sam Mendes into a hit film starring Jake Gyllenhaal), Swofford taught English at Lewis and Clark College and St. Mary's College of California. Jarhead received the Martha Albrand Art of Memoir Award from PEN.


Tony Swofford’s other books include Exit A: A Novel (Scribner, 2008) and his most recent release, Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails (Twelve 2012). Dedicating this confessional memoir to his father, Swofford writes an unflinching, sometimes painful-to-read account of his own ten oversexed years of profligacy and substance abuse after the success of Jarhead. At the core of his memoir is Swofford's struggle to reconcile with a dying father whose campaign of emotional abuse haunted his son from childhood into adulthood. Reviewer John Slania  of BookPage praises Swofford’s memoir as "short, staccato and rhythmic. More importantly, it’s honest. Swofford doesn’t spare anyone in his account, not his lovers, not his family, not himself. He paints himself as a fast-living philanderer and a failure at being human. Fortunately, he is a studious traveler, and the journey ends on a hopeful note, with Swofford learning lessons from his dying father on how to lead a more meaningful life."


Tony Swofford has been a Brown Foundation Fellow at the Dora Maar residency in Menerbes, France, and is the recipient of a prestigious Michener-Copernicus Fellowship and PEN Art of the Memoir Award. He has made guest appearances on Fresh Air, All Things Considered, The Wolf Blitzer Show, The Daily Show, and others. His wide-ranging periodical publications include Harper’s, The Guardian, Post Road, the New York Times, Harper's Men’s Journal, The Iowa Review, and dozens of others. He's currently completing a biography of Gold Star father Carlos Arredondo, the hero of 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing, which is being adapted for HBO Films. His next writing ventures currently include a book-length essay, No One Loves the Fat Man; a time travel novel, Sixty Diamond Minutes; and a prose poem cycle about right-wing extremism, Right Wing Radio Flyer.


Currently, Anthony Swofford lives in New York with his wife, Christa Parravani, and their daughter.





Her: A Memoir (Picador 2014). ISBN: 978-1250044396

Her: A Memoir Her: A Memoir

Her: A Memoir (Thorndike Press 2013). ISBN: 978-1410460448



Women in Clothes

“Filthy White Daisies." in Women in Clothes. Ed., Sheila Heti, et al. (Riverhead Books 2014). ISBN: 978-0399166563


Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails (Twelve 2012).

ISBN: 978-1455506736

Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails Jarhead

Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles (Scribner 2003). ISBN: 978-0743244916

Exit A: A Novel (Scribner 2008). ISBN: 978-0743270397

Exit A: A Novel Sachiko

Sachiko [Exit A]. (Calmann-Lévy 2009). ISBN: 978-2702138977           

Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan: Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupations. Foreword by Anthony Swofford. (Haymarket Books 2008) ISBN: 978-1931859653

Winter Soldier Burning the Little Candle

Burning the Little Candle: An Anthology of Writing. Introduction by Anthony Swofford. (Ad Lumen Press 2017). ISBN: 978-0986037405

Wildgen, Michelle, ed. Food and Booze: A Tin House Literary Feast. Contributor, Anthony Swofford. (Tin House Books 2006) ISBN: 978-0977312771

Food and Booze Home to War

Nicosia, Gerald, ed. Home to War: A History of the Vietnam Veterans' Movement. Contributor, Anthony Swofford. (Basic Books 2004) ISBN: 978-0786714032









"After War And Fame, Dad Is Author's Challenge." All Things Considered. National Public Radio Airdate 17 June 2012. Duration: 05:59.

"Anthony Swofford Reads and Excerpt from Jarhead." Audio. This American Life. Episode 232: The Real Story. Airdate: 14 February 2003.

AOL. "You’ve Got Anthony Swofford." YouTube. Posted 28 September 2012. Duration: 01:34.

"Author Anthony Swofford on His New Memoir, Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails." More Talk Radio. Celeste Carey and Cecil Prescod, Hosts. KBOO. Airdate: 11 June 2012. Duration: 55:15.

New York State Writers Institute. "Christa Parravani at the NYS Writers Institute in 2013." YouTube. Posted 13 March 2013. Duration: 03:01.

Quibell, Crystal-Lee. "Editing a Tragedy with Christa Parravani." Podcast. Literary Speaking 19 September 2016. Player FM. Duration: 27:12.

Rutgers University Association. "Rutgers MFA - Christa Parravani." YouTube. Posted 28 February 2013. Duration: 18:28.

Twelve Books. "Trailer for Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails: A Memoir by Anthony Swofford." YouTube. Posted 22 May 2012. Duration: 02:02.

Zinno, Mark and Matt Pascarella. "Anthony Swofford (Writer, Jarhead)." Hazard Ground Podcast Ep. 93 (11 November 2018). Duration: 01:11:25.


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