Public Affairs & Publications
Inside CSULB
CSULB Home page
Current Issue: Calendar: Archives: Contact Us
Vol 56 No. 10 | Sept. 2004
Featured Stories
Employee Information

Lisa GlattGlatt Garners Attention With First Novel

This past summer, Lisa Glatt fielded bouquets from the likes of the New York Times, Vanity Fair, The Washington Post and Elle.

A lecturer in CSULB’s English Department since 2000 and a member of the university’s class of 1984, she is the author of A Girl Becomes a Comma Like That, her new novel published in June by Simon and Schuster. It concerns a lonely and confused thirtysomething poetry teacher named Rachel Spark who lives with her dying parent (based on Glatt’s mother, Iris Stanton) while she and her friends try and fail to connect with something real, especially love.

Vanity Fair cheered Comma for adding “an emphatic exclamation point to the start of a promising career” while the New York Times praised it as “authentic, substantial and engaging.”

“ It feels really good,” said Glatt, a Long Beach resident. “There are many writers with first novels but not all of them get the kind of attention they might deserve. I published my first short story 17 years ago, so whatever success I’m seeing now isn’t overnight success, which makes it all the sweeter.”

Her poetry collections include Shelter and Monsters & Other Lovers. She has published work in Mississippi Review, Other Voices, Columbia, Indiana Review, Pearl, and The Sun. In 2003, she received the Mississippi Review prize for fiction. She is married to poet and visual artist David Hernandez.

The title of her book is derived from a passage where Rachel ponders the price of poor choices.

“ A girl becomes a comma like that, with wrong boy after wrong boy; she becomes a pause, something quick before the real thing,” she wrote. When asked about the title’s meaning, Glatt quoted her former CSULB writing professor, prize-winning poet Gerald Locklin. “He always said, ‘Don’t think too much,’ and that struck me many times while writing the book.

“ But now, after the fact, thinking, I suppose the phrase ‘a girl becomes a comma’ makes a sort of sense in the way that being paused, stuck, might define many of the novel’s characters.”

Novelist Frederick Barthelme described Comma as “a heartfelt and troubling book about how things go wrong, time after time, and how we manage in spite of it.” Managing and making mistakes are not mutually exclusive, Glatt believes. “Rachel makes mistakes but she fights her way through in the best way she knows,” she said. “Managing and making mistakes can happen simultaneously.”

A fear of the future in Comma reflects the post-9/11 malaise. “When writing, though, I’m interested in that fear only through the eyes of individuals,” she explained. “The times we live in are scary. There are only a certain number of days for everyone. One thing I might be saying in Comma is that we may be afraid of the future but it is all we have.”

Comparisons have been drawn between Comma and the TV series Sex and the City in the way both discuss modern women and their choices. “These are characters in more trouble than those TV women, I would hope,” she said. “But they deal with their trouble in the best way they can. I wanted to treat that struggle as honestly as I could.”

Glatt followed up her bachelor’s degree from CSULB in 1984 with a master’s of fine arts from Sarah Lawrence College. She returned to CSULB’s faculty in 1992 before joining UCLA’s writer’s extension program as an instructor and rejoined CSULB in 2000. She has a collection of short stories titled The Body Shop due out from Simon and Schuster in April and has begun her second novel. She will give a reading from Comma Tuesday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m. on the fifth floor of CSULB’s University Library.

Back to top