Oral Histories

Interview of Carolyn See

Author who writes books based in west Los Angeles.
Interviews not in a series, part two
Biographical Note:
Author who writes books based in west Los Angeles.
Collings, Jane
See, Carolyn
Persons Present:
See and Collings.
Place Conducted:
See's home in Santa Monica, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Jane Collings, interviewer and senior editor, Center for Oral History Research. B.A., Communications, Antioch College; M.A., Communications, University of Iowa; Ph.D., Critical Studies, UCLA.Collings prepared for the interview by reading See's work, as well as criticism of the work and reading relevant work of the period.
Processing of Interview:
The transcript of this interview is a verbatim transcript of the audio recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. See was then given the opportunity to review the transcript in order to supply the missing or misspelled names and to verify the accuracy of the contents, and those corrections were entered into the text without further editing or review on the part of the Center for Oral History Research (COHR) staff.
14 hrs.
Interviewee Retained Copyright
Parents' family background—Parents' marriage—Aunt Helen—Father's career in journalism—Father's drinking—Poker parties—A female journalist, Virginia Wright—Mother's gender consciousness—Mother's temperament—Parents' separation—Parents' World War II era volunteer responsibilities—See's childhood—Religious education—Family's financial situation—More on mother's temperament—See's ambition to go to college—Participates in drama club—The environment at junior high school and high school provides a haven—Finds important mentors in junior high school and high school—Friends at school form a supportive network—Fellow students' troubled situations—Mother's efforts to take See to cultural events—Efforts to do well at school despite all odds—Friends' career goals—Friends' families as role models—More on mother's temperament—An air raid in Los Angeles—The home front during World War II—Mother's boyfriend, Charlie—More on mother's temperament—Step-father, Jim Daly—Lives with father and his wife, Wynn—Father's work history—Father and second wife's participation in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)—More on living with father and Wynn—Wynn's role in AA—AA narratives—Moves into own apartment and begins college—Friend Jackie's unstable home environment.
The death of See's mother's boyfriend— The death of See's sister, Maureen—Graduates from high school and moves in with a friend, Jackie—Begins to attend college at Los Angeles Community College (LACC) as a drama major—An engaging group of students at LACC in the drama department—Works as a waitress at Van de Kamp's—The Van de Kamp's clientele—Develops an appreciation for jazz—The work of LaMont Young—Money troubles—Moves in with a boyfriend, Dickie Jones—The Brievoort Hotel—Introduced to film culture—Un Chien Andalou—Maintains a stable lifestyle while living with Dick Jones—A tumultuous breakup with Jones—Becomes involved with first husband, Richard See—Richard See's family—A Spartan lifestyle in Newfoundland with husband Richard See—Richard See's alcoholism—See's depleted emotional state in the early years of marriage—More on Richard See's alcoholism—The Sees travel to Paris—A return trip to Newfoundland fifty years later—Anger at Richard See's tendency toward inertness—See's sense in the fifties of dependency on men—The birth of See's first child, in Paris—More on Richard See—See's ability to endure and thrive—Importance of books and reading during See's youth—Sends a story to Seventeen magazine while in high school—Father's background as a fiction writer—Book of the Month Club—Reads Churchill's History of World War II—Returns to L.A. with husband and daughter—See's determination to attend college despite her domestic situation—Frustration with husband's lack of ambition—More on Richard See—The range of See's ideas about future career possibilities—See's interest in pursuing a life of education and culture—Lisa See's weekends with her grandparents—The Sees take on the management of a large apartment building, the Sentous Apartments--The chaotic environment at the Sentous Apartments–Attends UCLA–Meets second husband, Tom Sturak–A fruitful period of graduate study at UCLA–Tom Sturak–Richard See's unrequited love affair with his aunt–Marries Tom Sturak–The silence in the family surrounding Richard See's alcoholism–See's marriage to Tom Sturak.
See's appreciation of jazz —Develops an appreciation of Mexican folk music —Writes a first novel based on the tenants at the Sentous Apartments—Creative Artists Agency's interest in See's work—See's disinterest in critical theories of literature—Literary theories current in the UCLA English department in the early sixties—Other students in the English department—Reads The Feminine Mystique —John Espey—Motivation to attend graduate school at UCLA—See's efforts to be "a better person"—E.M. Forster—Literary characters who make efforts to build a more beautiful world—The Handyman—Marries Tom Sturak—Schemes for making money—Role models in the work world—See's disinclination to concern herself with money—See's first novel—The historical significance of female protagonists and scarcity of female writers—Instances of negative feedback directed toward female novelists in the sixties—Books published by See's fellow grad students—More on reading The Feminine Mystique —See's unexamined acceptance of the role of women in the fifties—Conflict in the marriage to Tom Sturak—Sturak's appreciation of Mexican folk culture—Sturak's talents and interests—Men's perspectives on writing by women—More on conflict in the marriage to Tom Sturak—Trips to Mexico with Sturak—More on Sturak's talents and interests—See's concern with nuclear annihilation—Inspiration for Golden Days—Writes a story on Linda Kassabian—LaMont Young—More on See's concern with nuclear annihilation—Sturak and See support their dissertation work with fellowship funding while in Mexico—Lives in Mazatlan—Sense of dissatisfaction on occasion of 29th birthday—Initial efforts at publication—Part-time teaching work at UCLA—Moves to semi-rural location in Topanga Canyon—Entranced by A Hard Days Night—Living in Topanga Canyon—Participates in early years of the counter culture while living in Topanga—See's half-sister, Maureen—Sister's drug use—Parties and drug use in Topanga—Ecstatic elements of drug use—The sense of being part of a cultural revolution—A resolution for See's abiding fear of nuclear annihilation.