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Marcom Debuts The Daydreaming Boy

Mills College Weekly

Not every writer has the ability to make history concrete by
capturing the small, ordinary things of life and wrapping them in
lyrical verse, especially when that history is unnerving and
uncomfortable for the reader. That is what Mills Creative Writing
professor, Micheline Marcom, does in her latest book, The
Daydreaming Boy.

Marcom first came to Mills in 1994 as the assistant director of
the Upward Bound program. She later returned to earn her MFA in
creative writing, where she started the first 100 pages of her
first book, Three Apples Fell From Heaven, which was later named
one of the best books of 2001 by the Los Angeles Times and The
Washington Post.

Marcom was born in Dhahram, Saudi Arabia and raised in Los
Angeles. She has always had a desire to write but feels that there
were many moments throughout her life that actually started the
process for her.

“I could say I started writing after a devastating love affair,”
said Marcom. “Maybe I did. I have stopped and started writing for
years. It was a mounting process and it finally came to a point
where I realized I would die if I didn’t write.”

And that’s what she does, in the most poetic and lyrical
fashion. Marcom says her writing is image-based. She was inspired
to write Three Apples Fell From Heaven after seeing a little girl
walking to a well and was reminded of her grandmother. The book
took on a life of its own from there and became a debut novel
depicting the lives shattered by the Turkish government’s brutal
campaign which resulted in the deaths of more than a million
Armenians. The Daydreaming Boy continues this story.

“The word is what is most important. Literature is the key. It
is fun, exciting, it’s why we do the work,” said Marcom.

When asked about advice she would give to women writers she
responded, “You have to do the work. It is helpful to have a type
of arrogance. You have to believe in it and you don’t give up. It’s
not about the material rewards. There’s something so amazing about
it that makes you keep showing up.”

Marcom lives in Berkeley with her husband and son, who’s 3 1/2.
She writes four days a week and believes writing is not just
sitting down to the page, but includes research, reading, thinking,
and planning. “Imagination needs room to grow, breath.” she

The Daydreaming Boy tells the tale of Vahe Tcheubjian, a
40-something, middle-class Armenian genocide survivor. His life, on
the surface, appears to be perfect. He is married, has a good job
and an active social life. As the lyrical verse continues, the
reader is drawn into Vahe’s world. A fantasy world where his past
has become intertwined, connected, and converged into his

In this world lives his wife, Julianna, to whom he spends a
great deal of time ‘notlistening,’ (sic) and the memory of a
severely abused child, Vostanig, from the orphanage where he spent
his youth. On Sundays he visits the zoo where he spends time with
Jumba, a cigarette smoking chimpanzee and on occasion visits with
the object of his sexual desire, Beatrice.

Marcom does an excellent job of tying all these characters and
their images, personalities, strengths, weaknesses, desires, and
faults together into what has been called a fictional self-portrait
that is at once lyrical and phantasmagorical, hallucinatory, and
searingly acute.

Although the subject matter is hard to digest and does not leave
the reader with a warm fuzzy feeling, what it successfully does is
tell a story that must be told, believed, read, accepted and
appreciated. A must read for the summer!