Mathews, Lou 1946–

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Mathews, Lou 1946–

PERSONAL: Born in Glendale, CA, November 27, 1946; son of Ernesto Muller (a salesman and chemist) and Marjorie Peyton Mathews (a schoolteacher); married Alison McIlvaine Turner (a lawyer), December 21, 1983 (second marriage); children: Jennifer. Education: Attended Glendale Community College, 1968–70; University of California at Santa Cruz, B.A. (with honors), 1973; Vermont College, M.F.A., 1987.

ADDRESSES: Home—2801 Westshire Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90068. Office—UCLA Extension Writers' Program, 10995 Le Conte Ave., Rm. 440, Los Angeles, CA 90024.

CAREER: Writer, journalist, editor, and educator. El Vaquero, Glendale College, Glendale, CA, editor, 1968–70; Glendale New Press, Glendale, sportswriter, 1968–70; Bob's Big Boy Family Restaurants, Glendale, editor of national and local corporate house organs, 1968–70; Sundaze, Santa Cruz, CA, fiction editor, 1971–73; Quarry West, University of California at Santa Cruz, editor, 1977–80; L.A. Style, contributing editor, 1988–94, restaurant reviewer, 1992–94; West-word, University of California at Los Angeles, fiction editor, 1992–96, UCLA Extension Writers' Program, instructor, 1989–. Worked variously as a library page, telephone lineman, warehouseman, teamster, gas station attendant, sportswriter, fry cook, employment counselor, beer seller at Watsonville Raceway, loading dock swamper, and mechanic.

AWARDS, HONORS: Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Fiction, 1979; California Arts Commission fiction fellowship, 1989; Pushcart Prize, 1990–91; Teacher of the Year Award, UCLA Extension Writers' Program, 1992; National Endowment for the Arts fiction fellowship, 1992; Best Book Award, Los Angeles Times, 1999, for L.A. Breakdown; Recipient of scholarships for the Squaw Valley Writer's Conference, 1973, 1975, and Vermont College, 1985–87.

WRITINGS:

Valley Light, Poet and Printer Press (Bakersfield, CA), 1978.

Portales (Spanish language text), Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1987.

Just Like James (short stories), Sands Houghton (Los Angeles, CA), 1996.

L.A. Breakdown (novel), British Book Co. (Redondo Beach, CA), 1999.

The Muse in the Bottle: Great Writers Celebrate Drinking, Citadel Press/Kensington (New York, NY), 2002.

Short stories have appeared in anthologies, including The Pushcart Prize XV, Pushcart Press/W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 1991; Love Stories for the Rest of Us/The Best of the Pushcart Prize, Pushcart Press/W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 1996; L.A. Shorts, Heyday Books (Berkeley, CA), 2000; Dustup, Sands Houghton (Los Angeles, CA), 2002; contributor of short stories to periodicals, including Crazyhorse, Witness, Nimrod, Dustup, Big Moon, Quarry West, Portland Review, Fail Better, Splat Clock, and Sundaze; contributor of articles to periodicals, including L.A. Reader, L.A. Weekly, L.A. Style, Tin House, Los Angeles Times, and Mother Jones.

PLAYS

Rancho Alisos, produced in Los Angeles, CA, 1996.

Captain Manners (radio play), produced at Glaxa Studios in Los Angeles, CA, 1996.

2×4, produced in Los Angeles, CA, 1997.

The Duke's Development, produced in Los Angeles, CA, 2000.

WORK IN PROGRESS: A novel of linked stories titled Shaky Town, a book about writing titled Quotations from Chairman Lou, and a play titled Heal.

SIDELIGHTS: Lou Mathews is the author of books and plays and received widespread public attention for his novel L.A. Breakdown. Set in Los Angeles, circa 1967, the novel is about the illegal and dangerous world of street racing. In the novel, the author describes a world that comes alive after dark and is peopled with a lost generation of young men and women who have left high school but have no thoughts of college. Drifting from one dead-end job to another, supplementing their income through thieving, doing the occasional stint in prison, and reluctantly—with the Vietnam war looming—entering the armed services when there is nothing else left. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the author "evocatively rendered" the American public's love of cars. The reviewer went on to call the novel a "snappy tale" and noted that the author's recreation of the street racing life "brings this world to life in vivid detail." Mark Rozzo, writing in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, called the novel "understated" and went on to comment that the author "deftly captures the mood of mid-'60s Los Angeles."

Mathews's full-length play, The Duke's Development, is set in 1640, twenty-four years after the death of Shakespeare, and focuses on an acting troupe hired to perform before a Duke at his castle. Unfortunately, the troupe soon finds itself fighting among themselves over the Duke's wishes to have only flashy, action-filled plays performed rather than the classics the troupe usually produces. Commenting on the play, the author told CA: "The idea expanded when I started really thinking of the parallels between the seventeenth century and the present. The dilemma for actors was the same: Art versus Money. Dukes were the studio heads of their time. That made me think of modern problems—the diminution of language, the rise of special effects, story analysis, test audiences, accounting, legal departments, agents. It was like taking dictation."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Los Angeles Times Book Review, August 1, 1999, Mark Rozzo, review of L.A. Breakdown, p. 10.

Publishers Weekly, August 16, 1999, review of L.A. Breakdown, p. 64.

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