Michael Petracca

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Michael Petracca is an American novelist, Lecturer Emeritus and former Acting Co-Director of the Writing Program at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Petracca's two novels, Doctor Syntax and Captain Zzyzx, published by Capra Press, feature Harmon Nails III as a protagonist. In Doctor Syntax (set in the Los Angeles area), Nails is a graduate student struggling to finish his dissertation. In Captain Zzyzx (set in the fictional "Fiesta City", in Southern California), Nails has rejected academia and plays in a rhythm and blues band while searching for love. To develop the characters for these books, the author draws upon history as a semi-professional poker player [1] and jazz / zydeco [2] / rhythm and blues guitarist, photographer for Skateboarder Magazine [3][not in citation given] and multi-divorced half-Italian half-Jewish Gaviota[disambiguation needed] Buzzard[disambiguation needed] Club [4][not in citation given] troubadour (2006). In recent years Petracca’s writing has focused on popular culture criticism [5] [6][not in citation given] and creative nonfiction, the latter relating volunteers’ contributions in the areas of habitat conservation [7] [8] and hospice care. Petracca is the son of Hollywood screenplay and television writer Joseph Petracca.


  • Doctor Syntax (1989)
  • Captain Zzyzx (1992)
  • The Graceful Lie: A Method for Making Fiction (1999)
  • Academic Communities/Disciplinary Conventions (with Bonnie Beedles) (2001)
  • Reading Popular Culture (with Madeleine Sorapure) (2012)
  • Common Culture: Reading and Writing About American Popular Culture (with Madeleine Sorapure) (1994, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2009, 2013)

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