Carnegie Mellon Press Releases

Back to Press Releases

Carnegie Mellon News Service Home Page

Carnegie Mellon Today

8 1/2 x 11 News

News Clips

Web News Stories

Calendar of Events

Press Release

Jonathan Potts

For immediate release:
April 16, 2003

Carnegie Mellon University Press Publishes "Inventing Victor" by Alumna Bannan

PITTSBURGH—A teenage girl with an imaginary boyfriend, a middle-aged suburbanite confronted by an unwelcome reminder of his youth and a gay teacher in love with a married man are among the characters who drift through the landscape of "Inventing Victor," a new short story collection published by the Carnegie Mellon University Press as part of its Series in Short Fiction.

"Inventing Victor" is the first book by Carnegie Mellon alumna Jennifer Bannan, who graduated in 1991 with a degree in creative writing and professional writing. The book is a collection of 11 stories, including some previously published in the literary journals ACM, Passages North, Café Eighties and Radio Transcript Newspaper.

"This collection is an almost tender evisceration of contemporary yuppie neuroses, and it mercifully doesn't take place in New York City. Jennifer Bannan gets the details right," said writer and satirist Neal Pollack.

Many of the stories in "Inventing Victor" dwell on people seeking some kind of normalcy in their lives, but whose efforts to belong only alienate them from others‹and themselves. In the title story, an insecure teenage girl tries to impress her popular best friend by inventing a larger-than-life relationship with an imaginary boyfriend. Her increasingly complex web of lies ensnares not only her but her friend as well, with disastrous consequences.

"Her stories are fine, funny and very moving pictures of contemporary life. She is a writer of enormous energy and talent. It's wonderful to see someone grow as a writer," said Sharon Dilworth, the editor of "Inventing Victor" and an associate professor of English and Creative Writing at Carnegie Mellon. Dilworth, an award-winning author of two short story collections, founded the Series in Short Fiction in 1997. Bannan said Dilworth is her mentor, and she said among the things she learned from her former professor is an appreciation for good storytelling. "She's an inspiration to me, and a really great writer."

Bannan, 34, is a Miami, Fla., native who lives in Pittsburgh's Friendship section with her husband, Richard Engel, and their 2-year-old daughter, Tova Rae Engel. Her husband is a 1991 graduate of Carnegie Mellon's professional writing program. Bannan works for ZerO to 5ive, a technology marketing firm.

"I used to tell stories in a bar, and people would say 'Those are great stories.' And I said, 'Why don't I write some of those down?'"

The Carnegie Mellon University Press publishes 20 to 25 titles annually. Orders for books may be placed through mail to Carnegie Mellon University Press, c/o Cornell University Press Services, Box 6525, Ithaca, NY 14850. Orders can be placed by phone at 1-800-666-2211 or via email at For more information, visit


Other Carnegie Mellon News || Carnegie Mellon Home