No Stopping Train


No Stopping Train  

No Stopping Train Book Release

October 19, 2014 @ 6 - 8 PM
Charles E. Young Salon
Click here for a campus map

PEN Center USA invites you to join us for an ensemble reading celebrating the release of Les Plesko's novel No Stopping Train. The event will feature readings from Janet Fitch, David Francis, Samantha Dunn, Joshua John Miller, Julianne Cohen, and Mary Rakow. 



Julianne Cohen is co-editor of the anthology Women on the Edge: Writing from Los Angeles. Her stories have appeared in Alaska Quarterly, Salmagundi, and The Malahat Review. She holds an MFA from UC Irvine and lives with her family on Bainbridge Island, Washington, where she writes short stories and works with children with autism.    
Samantha Dunn is the author of Failing Paris, a finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Fiction in 2000, and the memoirs Not By Accident: Reconstructing a Careless Life and Faith in Carlos Gomez: A Memoir of Salsa, Sex and Salvation. Her work is anthologized in a number of places, including the short story anthology Women on the Edge: Writing from Los Angeles, which she co-edited. Other recent collections showcasing her work include the Seal Press releases Dancing at the Shame Prom: Sharing the Stories That Kept Us Small and Drinking Diaries: Women Serve Their Stories Straight Up, as well as the Counterpoint Press release True Tales of Lust and Love. Numerous national publications feature Samantha's work, including the Los Angeles Times, O (Oprah) Magazine, Ms., and Salon.  A widely published journalist, her bylines have been regularly featured in InStyle, Glamour, SELF, Men’s Health, and many others. In 2000 she received the Maggie Award for Best Personal Essay in a Consumer Publication. She has also written for the stage and has taken a few turns screenwriting as a member of the Writers Guild of America. Samantha teaches in the UCLA Extension Writers Program and at the Idyllwild Arts Center in California and was a longtime writer-in-residence at the New York State Summer Writers Institute. She is also the founder of The Workshop, a private workshop series offering intensive sessions in creative nonfiction, memoir, and essay throughout Southern California and nationally. A former features writer for The Orange County Register, Samantha now lives in Orange, California.
Janet Fitch is the author of the novels Paint It Black and White Oleander, which has been translated into 27 languages.  Her short stories and essays have appeared in anthologies and journals such as Black Clock, Room of One's OwnLos Angeles Noir, the Los Angeles Times,, Black Warrior Review, Vogue, and Los Angeles Review of Books, where she is a contributing editor. She has taught and lectured on aspects of fiction writing in programs including the Master of Professional Writing program at USC, UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, Antioch University Los Angeles, University of California Riverside, Palm Desert, the Otis Art Institute, and the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. She was a 2002 Moseley Fellow at Pomona College in 2002, a 2003 Research Fellow at the Huntington Library, and a Likhachev Fellow in St. Petersburg, Russia in 2009. She is currently finishing an novel set during the Russian Revolution. She maintains a blog where she posts writing tips, rants, meditations, and short-shorts at
David Francis, originally from Australia, has lived mostly in the United States since 1985. His first novel, Agapanthus Tango, was published internationally in seven languages and in the United States as The Great Inland Sea. He received the Australian Literature Fund Fellowship to the Keesing Studio in Paris in 2002 and returns to the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris each year. His second novel, Stray Dog Winter, has been released in Australia and the U.S. and was named “Book of the Year” in The Advocate, “Australian Novel of the Year” in the Australian Literary Review, received the commendation of the Fellowship of Australian Writers National Literary Award, was a finalist for the LAMBDA Literary Award, and received the American Library Association's The Stonewall Book Award-Barbara Gittings Literary Award for 2010. His short stories and articles have appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Weekly Times, The Advocate, Wet Ink, The Southern California Review, The Elegant Variation, Best Australian Short Stories 2010, and The Harvard Review. His book reviews have appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books. He is collaborating on the screenplay of The Great Inland Sea, and film rights to Stray Dog Winter have been optioned in Australia.
A Los Angeles native, Joshua John Miller is the co-writer (with M.A. Fortin) of the just-wrapped The Final Girls (Sony Worldwide & Groundswell Productions). Upcoming films include a top-secret untitled project for 20th Century Fox and director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat) and two for Warner Brothers: The Stand-In (starring Robert Downey Jr.) and Silver (Bill Gerber, prod). In television, he just completed co-adapting Arturo Perez-Reverte’s novel Queen of the South for Fox Television Studios. Most recently, he co-scripted the short subject Dawn (dir. Rose McGowan), which was selected for competition at the Sundance Film Festival 2014 and Sundance UK. Miller completed his MFA in creative writing at The Iowa Writer's Workshop at the University of Iowa, where he was awarded the Capote Fellowship and chosen for The Houghton-Mifflin Fellowship Award. Meet The Author, Miller's upcoming second novel, began as his MFA thesis at the Writer's Workshop. Miller's first novel, The Mao Game, was published to much acclaim when he was 21 years old and an undergraduate at Yale. Miller has also written articles for Harper's Bazaar, Playboy, and Esquire. Prior to his writing work, Miller acted in over twenty films and received critical acclaim for his performances in such cult classics such as River’s Edge and Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark. During the 2003 Iowa caucus he worked for Governor Howard Dean as the head of the GLBT outreach for the entire state of Iowa. He’s also involved in fundraising and development for his Pulitzer Prize-winning late father’s theater company, The Jason Miller Public Theater, located in Pennsylvania.  
Mary Rakow comes to fiction from her study of theology at Harvard University. She is a recipient of two Lannan Foundation Residencies and a Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship. Her debut novel, The Memory Room, was shortlisted for the Stanford University Libraries International Saroyan Prize in Literature, was a finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Fiction, and was listed among the Best Books of the West by The Los Angeles Times. When in Los Angeles, Mary was a Mentor with PEN Center USA's Emerging Voices Program and an instructor with UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. She began writing fiction in the famous Advanced Workshop of Kate Braverman, where she met Les Plesko and the other writers reading today. Now living in San Francisco, she edits manuscripts in fiction, non-fiction, memoir, and the essay form. She also works with visual artists who wish to explore writing as part of their practice. Deeply interested in the visual arts, Rakow was commissioned to write a book-length essay titled Enrique Martinez Celaya, Working Methods. The first comprehensive look at the immense body of work of this Cuban-born artist, it is forthcoming in the U.S. in the fall of 2014.