From a small town in northern China.

When I attended junior high, I told gangbangers Bram Stoker’s Dracula scene by scene…

Peru 335 cropped

Traveling with enough to read is difficult even with iPhones, iPads, Kindle paperwhite and real novels and magazines. I was a literature major as an undergraduate at UCSB, my wife a Chinese literature major at Fudan University in Shanghai. I teach at UCSB and write books, she works in innovation. Reading constantly is what we do. Most of my friends read constantly, too, and even my kids read often, but not enough—as far as I’m concerned. We live in a world of literary culture: high and low. Cable television, video games and Snapchat aren’t going to change that. I grew up in LA in a working class black neighborhood where if you didn’t read you were considered an idiot with nothing of interest to say. When I attended junior high, I told gangbangers Bram Stoker’s Dracula scene by scene and they listened to my every word. It inspired me to want to write, to live a literary life in the broadest sense.
With our second issue of Literature for Life, we’re presenting contemporary literature in the broadest variety from a scientist writing about a tragic personal loss to a college student writing about the assassination of a south Vietnamese General, to a story of an overweight high school boy who loses all of his clothes in the pursuit of love, and much much more. We hope our readers find in our pages compelling, eclectic reading, and for teachers a contemporary literature resource that reflects the diversity of California and meets the common core curriculum standards—work that helps to light the fire to make our students passionate.