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Author Of The Month: James Manseau Sauceda

Published: January 15, 2016

Buddha’s Tooth

James Manseau Sauceda, Director, Office of Multicultural Affairs

Published by Author House in May, this 444-page first novel appears under the pen name of U.C. Fate. “U.C. Fate chooses to remain completely anonymous,” said Sauceda. “However, in his stead, he has designated James Manseau Sauceda, Ph.D., to be his sole and official literary representative.” The title refers to a sacred procession called the Esala Perahera held every year at a Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka that features a relic (an actual tooth) believed to be from the Buddha. Culture, chronology and traditional time simply lose their fixed frames as ancient Greeks, modern rock ‘n’ rollers, Catholic conquistas of Spain and present-day Mormons argue with tribal American Indians over whose “truth” is true. The incarnated god Quetzalcóatl also appears to fulfill a Meso-American prophecy. “I am not seeking to undermine anyone’s faith at any point,” said Sauceda. “What I am seeking is for everyone to examine their own faith. Moreover, the readers are not meant to come away with any conclusion that I have set up for them. Rather, I hope I have set up mirrors of observation, ornamented by facts of religious history that not many people know.” One of the book’s themes is its nomination of rock ‘n’ roll as a new religion. “It has both faith and communal power,” said Sauceda. For instance, Sauceda points to a citation referencing the book of “Zimmy,” chapter 12 and verse eight. Here “Zimmy” is Robert Zimmerman, (better known as singer/composer Bob Dylan.) Chapter 12 means Dylan’s 12th album and verse four is the album’s fourth cut. As James Joyce put it, recalled Sauceda, “I’m looking for the ideal reader with an ideal insomnia.” Sauceda hopes his readers take from Buddha’s Tooth a renewed sense of spiritual identity and wholeness in themselves. “Sometimes it seems as if we are stuck in the inferno with suffering all around us,” he said. “I think most of us ignore our spiritual identities. That doesn’t necessarily mean religion. It could mean any ennobling ideals that inspire us. An atheist could be lifted up by this book just as much as any priest. That is my goal.” Sauceda hopes Buddha’s Tooth offers magical and exciting qualities that can turn unpredictably into poetry. “The

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language of this book is elastic but its structure is meta-mythic and complex,” Sauceda explained. “The new generation is used to complexity in video game formats but many are non-literary. I admire how they navigate complicated games. This book tries to bring that complexity back to literature. This is the one novel I was called to write. I’m not a career writer per se.” Sauceda received his B.A. in speech communication from CSULB, being honored as his department’s top graduate in 1974. His master’s degree, also from CSULB, included international study in London, Dublin and Wales. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from CSULB in 1976. For his doctorate in communication arts and sciences, he attended USC where he graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1980.