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The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

English professor receives rave reviews for collections of short stories

English Professor Jodi Angel. Photo by Julie Jorgensen
City College English professor Jodi Angel has had her collections of short stories receive rave reviews in recent years. Photo by Julie Jorgensen | [email protected]

The San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Tin House, Esquire magazine, The Sacramento Bee, City College. What do all of these have in common? All know the talents of Jodi Angel.

Angel, 44, a City College English professor, not only teaches for a living — she writes books, as well. Her humble ways don’t reflect how well known her writing is by fans and reviewers alike.

In 2005, her collection of nine short stories about teenagers and survival titled “The History of Vegas” was published. In 2013, her collection of short stories, all from the point of view of teenage boys, was published, “You Only Get Letters From Jail”, which Esquire named as one of the best books of the year. Both collections of short stories have received excellent reviews

“… Angel bravely does what many writers are afraid to do. In tough, sometimes brutally lyrical language, she gives young, desperate voices – including their slang – full rein of the stage,” wrote a reviewer in The San Francisco Chronicle about “You Only Get Letters From Jail”.

Angel’s students describe her as being a funny, laid-back professor, with a lot of passion for English and writing.

“Her laugh is contagious. She’s one of the best teachers ever,” City College student Diana Sanchez says.

Angel’s edgy way of dressing—including band T-shirts, beanies, jeans and vegan shoes—is recognizable on campus. She can be seen getting out of her 1969 Chevy Nova. Shoulder-length straight brunette hair. Piercing green eyes. A folder full of student papers.

“I wrote a lot when I was younger. I wrote a lot of little stories when I was 13, 14, 15 years old,” Angel says.

The first fully developed story she says she ever wrote was in 7th grade. The story was a 35-pager about a boy striving to survive in the mountains after the death of his grandfather. Born and raised into a family of all girls in Red Bluff, Angel says she always enjoyed writing.

“My stories were always sort of survival, that type of thing,” Angel says.

As an English major at UC Davis, Angel says she enjoyed writing poetry.
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“I started off as a poet,” she recalls. “[The poems] were short, but they told a story.”

Angel grew up in Red Bluff with her now wife, Laura Casey. However, they hadn’t really talked for 20 years until they saw each other at their school reunion.

“When she walked up to me at the reunion she quite literally stole my breath,” Casey recalls. “I was living in Germany at the time, and when I flew home after the reunion the very first thing I did was to order her first collection, “The History of Vegas”, just so I could figure this girl out.

“When I started to read her stories, she blew my mind. The world she invokes is so dark, and her characters are all at this point in their lives where one more bad decision will change their lives forever. It was a trip, from that moment Jodi became my favorite author. The rest, as we say, is history.”

Angel says being well-known and recognized in the writing industry, having fans, a supporting wife and a full audience makes her feel really happy.

“I’m really lucky to have a lot of readers for my stories,” she says.

As recognized as Angel is, she never brags about her published work.

“I never really talk about being a writer in my classes, so unless they find out, that’s the only way they read my stuff,” Angel says. “I’ve never assigned my own book to a class.”

“Professor Angel has a great sense of humor, but is also very professional when it comes to business,” says Gustavo Moran, a City College student and former high school student of Angel’s.

Her first novel, “Ghost Ride the Whip”, is in the making. Its theme, she says, is a “mystery.”

Editor’s Note: This story was written by guest writer Joanna Manzano ([email protected]).

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