Author Rodes Fishburne to speak at CLU

Freshmen read his book on a vocational journey

Rodes Fishburne will discuss his coming-of-age story about a young man who arrives in San Francisco with dreams of writing the great American novel.

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Sept. 6, 2012) Author Rodes Fishburne will discuss his novel, “Going to See the Elephant,” at a free public event as part of the California Lutheran University program that requires all freshmen to read the same book.

Fishburne will discuss his coming-of-age story about a young man who arrives in San Francisco with dreams of writing the great American novel from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, in Gilbert Arena. He will also answer audience questions and sign copies of his book, which will be available for purchase.

CLU’s freshmen read the book before arriving on campus for New Student Orientation on Sept. 1, and the First Year Seminar sections will explore the text throughout the semester. The First Year Experience program helps students socially and academically with the transition to college by engaging them in a common learning experience, fostering their understanding of academic inquiry and prompting them to think about questions that matter in the world.

“Going to See the Elephant” speaks to discovering one’s purpose, something that faculty and staff strive to help students do at CLU. In the novel, the protagonist, Slater Brown, realizes that his initial ideas about his life focus or passion are somewhat misguided, and he needs to rethink the steps that he intends to take on his journey. The book is being used not only to discuss purpose or vocation with entering students but also as a way for students to think more carefully about the ways in which academic work can engage people in larger conversations about our respective life journeys.

In January 2009, Fishburne’s first book made’s list of the best novels and the Indie Next List, which is compiled from independent bookseller recommendations. Praised by writer Tom Wolfe and compared to novelist Tom Robbins, Fishburne has written for magazines and newspapers, including The New Yorker, The New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, for more than 10 years. He was the editor of the Forbes ASAP “Big Issue,” an annual magazine of literary essays from leading writers and thinkers, including Bill Gates, Kurt Vonnegut and the Dalai Lama.

The Drilling Company performed Fishburne’s one-act plays “Note to Self,” “Gaggle” and “Waiting for Henry to Snow” at the West 78th Street Theatre in New York City. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation commissioned him to write a play addressing timely scientific themes called “Eternity: A play in 30 minutes.”

Gilbert Arena is located in the Gilbert Sports and Fitness Center on the north side of Olsen Road near Mountclef Boulevard in Thousand Oaks. For more information, contact Jim Bond at or 805-493-3244.