Abildskov, Marilyn 1961-
ABILDSKOV, Marilyn 1961-
PERSONAL: Born 1961, in UT. Education: University of Iowa, M.F.A.
ADDRESSES: Offıce—MFA Program in Creative Writing, St. Mary's College of California, P.O. Box 4686, Moraga, CA 94575-4686.
CAREER: St. Mary's College of California, Moraga, associate professor of English.
AWARDS, HONORS: Rona Jaffe Writers' Award, 1998; Writers at Work fellowship, 2000; two Pushcart Prize nominations.
The Men in My Country (memoir), University of Iowa Press (Iowa City, IA), 2004.
Contributor of short stories, essays, and poetry to periodicals such as Sonora Review, Georgetown Review, Black Warrior Review, Fourth Genre, Puerta del Sol, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Quarterly West.
SIDELIGHTS: Marilyn Abildskov earned her M.F.A. in creative writing from the prestigious University of Iowa Writers Program. A faculty member at St. Mary's College of California, Abildskov teaches and writes near the San Francisco Bay area.
In the early 1990s, at age thirty, Abildskov decided on a change of venue and left her native Utah for a position in Japan, teaching English to businessmen and children. During her two years in Japan, she engaged in relationships with three distinctly memorable men—two Japanese and one Iranian. In The Men in My Country, her memoir of her time abroad, Abildskov traces her international journey and the difficulties resulting from romance in a foreign land.
Amir, a laborer in a noodle shop, is sweet and thoughtful, but ultimately too young. However, the Professor is intelligent and an English speaker, somewhat older and attractive. Though their relationship starts smoothly, Abildskov quickly cools her desires when she learns he is married. Despite their truncated relationship, the two remain friends and continue to meet for coffee. Nozaki, a businessman, seems to offer Abildskov everything she wants in a relationship. In addition to being a successful (and unmarried) businessman, Nozaki is intelligent and well read, interested in ideas and conversation. Their relationship is intense, though brief. The book offers "an astonishing and brutally honest portrait of Abildskov's pursuit of Nozaki," commented Booklist reviewer Rebecca Maksel. Gradually, Nozaki withdraws from Abildskov and, when the relationship ends she returns to the United States to attend graduate school, alone but enriched by her experiences.
A Kirkus Reviews critic called The Men in My Country a "finely wrought though often self-conscious memoir of the author's fulfilling sojourn in Japan," and added that the relationship discussed "completed [the author's] . . . sense of belonging." Abildskov's text is "introspective, perceptively cross-cultural, poignant, and sometimes funny," remarked Harold M. Otness in Library Journal. For Abildskov, the book was an attempt to capture the aching, wistful beauty underlying the song "Boots of Spanish Leather," as she related in a biography on the St. Mary's College of California Web site. "I wanted my own travel book to sound the same way," she commented, "to quietly work its way over the reader toward an inevitable conclusion, an obvious end: a parting of the ways, the way all lonesome stories end."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Abildskov, Marilyn, The Men in My Country, University of Iowa Press (Iowa City, IA), 2004.
Booklist, October 1, 2004, Rebecca Maksel, review of The Men in My Country, p. 296.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2004, review of TheMen in My Country, p. 843.
Library Journal, November 15, 2004, Harold M. Otness, review of The Men in My Country, p. 68.
St. Mary's College of California Web site,http://www.stmarys-ca.edu/ (February 2, 2005), "Marilyn Abildskov."*