Tim Cavanaugh of Reason.TV interviews writer Nancy Rommelmann ’83 about her newest work, The Bad Mother, a short (144-page) piece of fiction set on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Wilcox. The plot follows the lives of three homeless girls—one a pregnant teen— and their friends, over the course of six months. Rommelmann, who is an award-winning journalist, makes it clear to Cavanaugh that this is entirely fictional, despite a style that seems reportorial, and a topic—the homeless who show up in the glamorous city of Los Angeles, hoping for a better life—that is not dissimilar to other stories which she covered as a journalist.
“It’s in a real minimalist style,” notes Cavanaugh of The Bad Mother.
Says Rommelman: “I don’t ever—either in fiction or in journalism—want to tell the reader how to feel. I don’t really think that’s my job. I’m going to tell them what happens. And they can take it and they can figure out how they feel about it. I don’t want to hand-lead them anywhere.”
As for Rommelmann’s observations on the city in which this is set: “I think Hollywood exerts this… it sends this message, and it says, ‘If you show up, I’m going to deliver your destiny. But you got to stay. You have to believe in me.’ So they come. And a lot of people, you know, it doesn’t happen, and they leave. But other people, they just keep… they just stay, and they just stay and they just stay, And maybe that next break is going to happen. And Hollywood is not going to disabuse you of that notion. It needs you here.”
On her web site, she describes her journalism as writing “about people and how they do and do not fit themselves into the culture, their dreams, delusions, and sometimes criminal behavior.” Her work has received numerous awards, including Best Arts Feature 2008 for No Exit Plan: The Lies and Follies of Laura Albert, a.k.a. JT LeRoy, from the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies (AAN), as well as Best Entertainment Arts Feature 2008 from the Los Angeles Press Club.
See the video here.
To learn more about Rommelmann’s work, visit her web site, nancyrommelmann.typepad.com.