On Thursday, February 25, renowned author and memoirist Debra Monroe, Ph.D., will give a workshop and reading in Room 1302 at Western Wyoming Community College. The free evening program begins at 7:30 p.m.
Monroe is the author of four books of fiction and two memoirs, including her most recent, My Unsentimental Education. Published in 2015, the book “tracks a runaway life with consummate control and aphoristic wit” (Phillip Lopate). It was widely praised for its humor, its lyricism, and its “stinging revelations” (Dallas Morning News), as well as for its “fresh insights” and “funny-sad” moments (Chicago Tribune).
Monroe's first book, The Source of Trouble, published in 1990, won the prestigious Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction for the best collection of short stories in the United States, and was acclaimed as a “fierce debut” that presents “ever-hopeful lost souls with engaging humor and sympathy” (Kirkus Reviews).
Monroe is known for prose that’s “rangy, thoughtful, ambitious, and widely, wildly knowledgeable” (The Washington Post), and her work is admired for its irreverent perspective on American life: “Her characters, like her prose, have hard edges. They also have big hearts, dark humor, and purely unique ways of opening themselves up for our inspection. This book makes you want to take the author out for a drink and tell her your troubles” (Antonya Nelson).
Monroe's writing has appeared on “Best Ten” lists in Elle magazine, on the “Hot Type” list in Vanity Fair, as a “Recommended Reading” pick in O, the Oprah Magazine, and in Borders Bookstores’ “Original Voices” series. Monroe has published fiction in more than 50 magazines. Her essays have appeared in the New York Times, Salon.com and The American Scholar, and often have been cited for Best American Essays.
The following is an excerpt from Monroe’s memoir essay, “The Sex Trade In Northwestern Wisconsin,” which appeared in the Dallas Morning News:
“I should have gone to college but worried I’d feel like a rube there, so I stayed in Spooner, Wis., and justified my waitress job as sympathy for the proletariat—a phrase I’d picked up from the newly arrived post-hippies. In far-off cities, young people were already dressing for punk or disco, but I spent Saturday nights visiting communes. I wore peasant dresses I sewed myself, knee-high moccasins, head scarves I bought at the dime store, and I stood next to pot-bellied stoves with people 10 years older than me who’d graduated from Vassar or Sarah Lawrence or Yale. They listened to Bob Dylan and talked about the barter system, how it bypassed capitalist exploitation. One night a woman with feather earrings led me to the kitchen and read me a Marge Piercy poem, 'The Implications of One Plus One.' Then she said, 'Jealousy is an emotion I choose not to feel.' Her eyes lingered on me. Her husband’s eyes lingered on me. One of them wanted to sleep with me, I knew, but I figured I had at least the summer to decide who exactly and if I believed in free love, which seemed philosophically akin to the barter system.”
Monroe, a Professor of English at Texas State University, was born in North Dakota and raised in Wisconsin. She has since lived in Kansas, Utah, and Texas.
In addition to her evening reading and discussion in Room 1302, Monroe will also host a writing workshop from 1 - 3:50 p.m. in Room 1439 on Thursday afternoon. The workshop is free and open to the public, but it also may be taken as a one-credit course, ENGL 2495. Contact Mustang Central at (307) 382-1677 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
The Visiting Writers Series is sponsored by the Arlene and Louise Wesswick Foundation and Western’s English Department, with additional support from the Best Western Outlaw Inn and Open Range Restaurant.