Share this:
01/12/2005 08:00:00

Caltech Author's Take on Desperate Housewives, Family Fights, and Suburban Paranoia

PASADENA, Calif.-What does Merrill Joan Gerber, a lecturer in creative writing at the California Institute of Technology, know about desperate housewives, family feuds, and the façades of middle-class suburbia?

Well, Gerber comments on these issues and more in her newest book, This is a Voice from Your Past: New and Selected Stories.

Gerber's compilation of short stories exposes fascinating characters and their situations in seemingly serene Southern Californian suburbia, where what's hiding beneath the façade of normal middle-class life is revealed through stories of family fights and triumphs, vulnerable women, and paranoid housewives.

The New York Times Book Review said, "Gerber's supple prose takes us right inside her character's minds, sometimes funny, sometimes frightening, always absorbing and believeable." The book, available in bookstores this month, is published by Ontario Review Press.

Gerber has taught at Caltech since 1989. She is the author of 25 books, seven of which are novels. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Mademoiselle, and Redbook, winning her numerous awards, including the O. Henry Award in 1986.

Gerber's other books include Anna in the Afterlife, one of the Los Angeles Times "Best Books of 2002"; the travel memoir Botticelli Blue Skies: An American in Florence; King of the World, winner of the Pushcart Press Editor's Book Award; and The Kingdom of Brooklyn, winner of the Hadassah Magazine's Ribalow Prize.

Gerber lives in Sierra Madre with her husband, a retired professor from Pasadena City College.

The author will read from and discuss This is a Voice from Your Past: New and Selected Stories on Friday, February 4, at the Huntington Library, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, at 2:30 p.m. in the Overseers' Room, free of charge, and Wednesday, February 23, at Vroman's Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena, at 7 p.m., free of charge.

The author can be reached at or visit her website at


Contact: Saskia Pickles (626) 395-3227

Visit the Caltech Media Relations Web site at:

Written by Deborah Williams-Hedges