Author Oakley Hall Dies; Helped Launch Chabon

Oakley Hall, an author and professor at UC Irvine who helped launch Michael Chabon’s career, died Monday. He was 87.

Chabon, who earned an MFA in creative writing from UC Irvine in 1987, studied under Hall. Chabon told the Los Angeles Times that Hall was admired and feared.

“Oakley would stay on a piece of writing, get into it on a molecular level,” Chabon said. “He wasn’t harsh [in his critiques], but he didn’t pull any punches. He didn’t worry if what he said would be easy to hear.

“He had a classic gruff exterior, but you knew he was a warm and affectionate man who was really trying to help. That made the criticism easier to take.”

Chabon wrote Mysteries of Pittsburgh as his master’s thesis during his time at Irvine. It was a different professor, MacDonald Harris (Don Heiney), who secretly sent the manuscript to an agent and truly put Chabon on the map.

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