Cris Mazza is the author of over a dozen books. Her most recent fiction titles include Trickle-Down Timeline and Waterbaby. Her other fiction titles include the critically notable Is It Sexual Harassment Yet?, and the PEN Nelson Algren Award-winning How to Leave a Country. She also has a collection of personal essays, Indigenous: Growing Up Californian. A native of Southern California, Mazza grew up in San Diego County. She currently lives 50 miles west of Chicago and is a professor in the Program for Writers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
In the era just before computers, at the dawn of “safe sex,” for a sub-generation of people who came of age without a war in Vietnam to unite them, the stories in Trickle-Down Timeline are glimpses into individual lives subtly influenced by the political and social milieu of the 1980’s. For some people, the surplus and glut of the 80’s were part of some other world, not theirs; and it couldn’t be a “me-generation” if they didn’t know who they were or where they were going. They were often just finding out what they were going to want; or they were, in starting out, already where they were going to end up.
A versatile and probing novelist, Mazza is at her clarion best in this riveting improvisation on the lost world chronicled in her memoir, Indigenous: Growing Up Californian (2003). Ronnie works in the geriatric hospital in which her stroke-afflicted father lives, but Medicare patients such as he are being forced to leave, and she decides that now is the time to attend to some mysterious, unfinished business involving the remains of her brother and mother, whose shocking deaths have so cruelly oppressed her. But their odd quest is interrupted by a pack of violent suburban teens. Rescued by a handsome and enigmatic migrant worker advocate, Ronnie and her father follow his lead and seek shelter deep in the canyons. As they struggle to survive, their tragic past unfolds in vivid flashbacks, and Mazza’s mythic and mesmerizing tale charts the cruel paradoxes inherent in migrant workers’ lives.