Benson, Amy 1972(?)-
Benson, Amy 1972(?)-
PERSONAL: Born c. 1972; female; married Douglas Repetto. Education: B.S. (biology); M.F.A. (poetry); doctoral study (literature).
CAREER: Writer and poet. Northwest Missouri State University, instructor for four years.
AWARDS, HONORS: Bakeless Prize for Creative Nonfiction, Bread Loaf Writer's Conference, 2003, for The Sparkling-eyed Boy; fellow, Bread Loaf Writer's Conference, 2004.
The Sparkling-eyed Boy: A Memoir of a Love, Grown Up, introduction by Ted Conover, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2004.
Contributor of poetry and prose to magazines and reviews, including Fourth Genre, New Orleans Review, Pleiades, Connecticut Review, River Styx, Quarterly West, and Mid-American Review.
SIDELIGHTS: Writer and poet Amy Benson's debut book is her memoir of first love, The Sparkling-eyed Boy: A Memoir of Love, Grown Up. As a child, Benson spent every summer at her family's cabin on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where one particular local boy caught her attention. One summer he declared his love for her in a letter, but when Benson finally went away to college nothing more came of this first, rather chaste love. As a young woman Benson began to rework these memories into a creative nonfiction format comprising thirty-two entries, exploring the "what if" possibilities.
A critic for Publishers Weekly described Benson's first book as a story "of what did not happen." The same reviewer noted that, despited the work's slightness, "buried among [some] uninteresting musings are occasional moments of insight." Gina Kaiser, writing in Library Journal, also found the book "a bit self-indulgent," but also commented that Benson's "training as a poet is evident throughout; her words often resonate." A contributor for Kirkus Reviews also had a mixed evaluation, writing that while Benson's "carefully wrought prose evokes with conscious lyricism such perennials of the picturesque as sunsets and water views," the author's prose "turns curiously lifeless and emotionally tepid when examining the boy and her love for him." Booklist critic Joanne Wilkinson was more positive in her evaluation of The Sparkling-eyed Boy, allowing that while the book is "rather self-absorbed" and "obsessive," it gives "a remarkably candid disclosure of what it feels like to be young and in love for the first time." For Wilkinson, The Sparkling-eyed Boy is a "provocative, intense read."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 1, 2004, Joanne Wilkinson, review of The Sparkling-eyed Boy: A Memoir of a Love, Grown Up, p. 1527.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2004, review of The Sparkling-eyed Boy, p. 370.
Library Journal, June 15, 2004, Gina Kaiser, review of The Sparkling-eyed Boy, p. 70.
Publishers Weekly, April 26, 2004, review of The Sparkling-eyed Boy, p. 53.
Official Amy Benson Web site, http://www.amybenson.com (October 12, 2004).