If you are looking for something literary to do tonight, stop by the Book Cellar at 7:00pm to hear a reading by local authors Kathleen Rooney, Cristina Henriquez (Come Together, Fall Apart and The World in Half), and Melanie Benjamin (Alice I Have Been). Kathleen is the author of a new collection of nonfiction essays, For You, For You, I am Trilling These Songs, and recently fellow author and Book Cellar employee Brandon Will sat down with Kathleen and found out a little more about her.
KR: Martin (my husband, also a writer) and I moved to the city in August of 2007 and we've been in the same apartment in Edgewater ever since. There are lots of things to love about the neighborhood, but one of the features I love the most is that "Edgewater" is not merely a clever name--we really are right at the edge of the water. Lake Michigan is probably my favorite body of water - if not in the world then definitely in the United States - and it means a lot to me to get to live so close to it.
BW:You've traveled quite a bit, seen other places, other writing communities: What neighborhood do you live in now? What do you love about that neighborhood?
BW: You have a background in poetry and other forms of writing: when did you gravitate towards the personal essay?
KR: Back in 2006, when I used to be a teacher, I got hired to teach creative nonfiction. I'd written basically zero personal essays up to that point, so I was suddenly in a classic fake-it-'til-you-make-it situation where I had to become an "expert" on an unfamiliar subject extremely quickly. After reading as many personal essays as I could cram into a single summer, and then teaching the essay for an academic year, I inevitably wanted to try my own hand at it. The essay form is seductive that way--look out.
BW: Your writing is pretty fearless. You write the kinds of secrets so many of us keep inside: opinions of close family, contradictions in yourself: What's one of the toughest moments you've had result from this type of baring-it-all writing, and what is one of the most wonderful moments that resulted from your openness?
KR: In Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Joan Didion says, "Writers are always selling somebody out." I try to write with as much honesty and fairness as possible, but I've come to learn that even if you think you've written something affectionate or charitable, the person about whom you've written might not see it that way. Other times, I've written about people and felt sure that they would be beyond furious and they've been totally fine. So what I'm getting at, I suppose, is that the wide variety of people I've written about in this latest book--even the ones whose names have been changed--will likely feel either sold out/betrayed or flattered/touched, or, more likely, both simultaneously. That said, the book's only been out for a minute, so I'm still holding my breath to see how all that will play out.
For more information on the Kathleen Rooney please visit her website.