Catherine Baab 

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Catherine Baab, 25, sees all of her characters as repentant jerks, often afflicted by doomed love and a dose of the emptiness that drives her generation.

A native of Richmond, Baab hasn't stayed put long. After graduating from the University of Southern California in 2004 with a degree in English literature, Baab received a fellowship to Bucknell University in Pennsylvania for a Younger Poet's Seminar. Last year she traveled through nine different countries, including Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia and Thailand, after receiving a yearlong fellowship to teach creativity in Singapore.

Baab has returned home just long enough to send her novel, "Fun Without Beer," to several different agents, get married and work part time at Yoga Source. Inspired by specific moods rather than autobiographical events, she writes in a room that is an exact replica of her sophomore-year dorm room.

The same week that she placed second in Style Weekly's Fiction Contest, she received a runner-up prize in the Potomac Review's F. Scott Fitzgerald Short Story Contest.

"The Last Reader" is not based on actual people or events, but is in part inspired by Baab's belief that "people who hate Kerouac are just as bad as the people who love him."

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