Emmons, Cai 1951-
EMMONS, Cai 1951-
PERSONAL: Born 1951, in Boston, MA; children: Benjamin Bradlee Howorth. Education: Yale University, B.A. (summa cum laude); New York University, M.F.A. (film); University of Oregon, M.F.A. (creative writing).
ADDRESSES: Home—3022 Onyx Place, Eugene, OR 97405. Offıce—University of Oregon, Creative Writing Program, 144 Columbia Hall, Eugene, OR 97403. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: University of Oregon, Eugene, Creative Writing Program, assistant professor. Has worked as a screenwriter, film and video director, film and video editor, and professor of film at University of Southern California and Orange Coast College.
MEMBER: Authors Guild, Writers Guild of America.
AWARDS, HONORS: Student Academy Award, for A Man around the House; Matthew Thornton International Prize for Fiction; James Jones First Novel Competition semifinalist; two Edward Albee Foundation Fellowships.
(And director) A Man around the House (film), 1981. His Mother's Son (novel), Harcourt (New York, NY), 2002.
Author of the stage plays Mergatroid and When Petulia Comes Home. Author of several screenplays sold for production including Starry Eyes, Bright Boy, Little Bastard, Dad and Lad, The Political Wife, The Perfect Man, and The Mating Season. Author and director of the independent film Higher Aspirations. Has written episodes for the television series The Trials of Rosie O'Neil.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A novel tentatively titled Pizazz, which takes place in Hoboken, NJ, Costa Rica, and Connecticut and features a protagonist who is a Harvard dropout turned hairstylist.
SIDELIGHTS: Cai Emmons began her career as a playwright. Her plays were produced at the American Place Theater, Playwrights' Horizons, and Theatre Genesis. She received a Masters of Fine Art in film from New York University and went on to write and direct the independent films A Man around the House, which won the Student Academy Award, and Higher Aspirations. At the age of forty-five Emmons left the film business to attend the University of Oregon, where she received her Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing.
Emmons's debut novel is His Mother's Son. The novel tells the story of Jana Thomas, an emergency room doctor who is married and has a six-year-old son. She seems to have the perfect life, but Jana is hiding a secret from her family and friends. Her real name isn't Jana, it is Cady. She changed her name sixteen years earlier in order to escape her past, which includes a violent younger brother. Jana's son acts like all other boys his age, but Jana sees a violent streak in him. His activities trigger something in Jana and her past comes back to haunt her, which results in her perfect life falling apart. During this time Jana also learns that her brother has been sentenced to life in prison and is dying of AIDS. Jana goes to his side and at the same time confronts the past that has haunted her. "Emmons," wrote a contributor to the Economist, "has an eye for the grating intimacy of small-town life and a fine ear for suggestive metaphors." The writer concluded by describing His Mother's Son as an "unusual and memorable" debut. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly expressed a similar view, calling the novel "a notable debut, a rich read with a generous, redemptive ending." A writer for Kirkus Reviews, commending the novel for its "gorgeous writing throughout," concluded that the book is "an unusually affecting and memorable debut."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Economist, January 25, 2003, review of His Mother'sSon.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2002, review of HisMother's Son, p. 1492.
Publishers Weekly, October 14, 2002, review of HisMother's Son, p. 62.
Mostly Fiction,http://mostlyfiction.com/ (January 22, 2003), review of His Mother's Son.
University of Oregon,http://www.uoregon.edu/ (January 22, 2003), Cai Emmons faculty profile.
University of Oregon Bookstore,http://www.uobookstore.com/ (January 22, 2003), "A Conversation with Cai Emmons."