Kate Braverman, Who Wrote of Women on the Margins, Dies at 70
Reviewing the Kahlo book for NPR, the novelist Alan Cheuse said, “As with Kahlo herself, women are Braverman’s great subject, but she also riffs in remarkably beautiful passages on the nature of cities and on the effects of drugs.”
She became a writing teacher at the U.C.L.A. Extension Writers’ Program and, in the 1990s, held workshops at her home. Her students included Janet Fitch, the author of the novel “White Oleander” (1999), and Samantha Dunn, the author of the novel “Failing Paris” (1999).
In phone interviews, both women described a high-octane and uncompromising teacher who inspired them to add propulsive power to their work. But they also said she could be tough on the students; some of them, Ms. Fitch said, wept in their cars outside Ms. Braverman’s house after being criticized.
“She lived and died by the word,” Ms. Dunn said. “If you were writing anything less than incendiary prose, you weren’t living up to the challenge of the word.”
Ms. Fitch recalled: “Her voice is constantly in my head. When something was particularly well phrased, she’d go, ‘Yum, yum,’ and when I write, I sometimes say, ‘Yum, yum.’”
Nearly 20 years after her last class, Ms. Dunn received a letter from Ms. Braverman that reminded her of her unyielding approach to literature.
“You thought writing a reasonable profession,” Ms. Braverman wrote. “You thought you could wear linen and gloves. You didn’t realize the habitual hazards of this art form, the contagious derangement, the exposure and subsequent addiction to toxins, the delirium of thirty hours in stark communion with a self that is insatiable for discovery.”