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A misfit in Spooner, Wisconsin, with its farms, bars, and strip joints, Debra Monroe leaves to earn a degree, then another, and another, and builds a careerif only because her plans to be a midwestern housewife continually get scuttled. Fearless but naive, she vaults over class barriers but never quite leaves her past behind. When it comes to men, she’s still bluecollar. Negotiating the world of dating, Monroe pays careful attention to what love and sex mean to a woman ambivalent about her newfound status as “liberated.”
Both the story of her steady rise into the professional class and a parallel history of unsuitable exes, this memoir reminds us how accidental even a good life can be. If Joan Didion advises us “to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be,” Monroe takes this advice a step further and nods at the people she might have become but didn’t. Funny, poignant, wise, My Unsentimental Education explores the confusion that ensues when a working-class girl ends up far from where she began.
DEBRA MONROE is the author The Source of Trouble, which won the 1989 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. She is also the author of the story collection A Wild, Cold State; two novels, Newfangled and Shambles; and two memoirs, On the Outskirts of Normal and My Unsentimental Education. She is a "fierce" writer who presents "ever-hopeful lost souls with engaging humor and sympathy" (Kirkus Reviews), in prose that's "rangy, thoughtful, ambitious, and widely, wildly knowledgeable" (Washington Post), always "fine and funky, marbled with warmth and confusion, but not a hint of sentimentality" (Boston Globe). She lives in Austin, Texas, and teaches in the MFA program at Texas State University.