Day, Cathy 1968-
DAY, Cathy 1968-
PERSONAL: Born 1968, in Peru, IN. Education: DePauw University, B.A. (magna cum laude), 1991; University of Alabama, M.F.A., 1995.
CAREER: Teacher and author. Minnesota State University, Mankato, workshop instructor, 1997-99; College of New Jersey, assistant professor of creative writing, 2000—.
MEMBER: Association of Writers and Writing Programs, Phi Beta Kappa.
AWARDS, HONORS: Teaching/Writing fellowship and graduate council fellowship, both University of Alabama, both 1994; faculty research grant, Minnesota State University, 1998; Bush artist fellowship, Bush Foundation, 1999; Tennessee Williams scholarship, Sewanee Writers' Conference, 2001; Discover Great New Writers selection, Barnes & Noble, and Best Books of 2004 Debut Fiction award, Amazon.com, both 2004, both for The Circus in Winter.
The Circus in Winter, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2004.
Short stories and articles have appeared in numerous periodicals, including Antioch Review, Shenandoah, Southern Review, River Styx, Distillery: Artistic Spirits of the South, Cream City Review, Gettysburg Review, Story, Florida Review, and Quarterly West. Short stories have appeared in the anthologies, Walking on Water, University of Alabama Press, 1996; American Fiction, volume ten, New Rivers Press, 1999; and New Stories from the South, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2000.
SIDELIGHTS: Cathy Day draws on her own past as a youth for her first novel The Circus in Winter. Day grew up in Peru, Indiana, which once served as the winter home for many circuses. The author boasts a great uncle who was known as the world's fastest ticket taker and another who was an elephant trainer. In her novel of eleven connected short stories, Day draws on the many stories she heard as a youth to tell the tale of Lima, Indiana, and the rise and fall of the fictional Great Porter Circus, which uses Lima as its winter home from 1884 to 1939. The stories, which meander back and forth in time, include an account of how Wallace Porter buys the circus as his wife nears death, how the erotic acrobat Jennie Dixianna takes and discards lovers and even has an affair with Porter, and how the death of an elephant trainer reverberates down through the years to his descendents.
Writing in the New York Times Book Review, Gary Krist praised Day for avoiding the trap of "giving us variations on certain trite and less-than-urgent truths" that many fiction writers fall into when focusing on circus life. Krist went on to note that the author "succeeds in appropriating much of the garish pungency of the world of freaks, geeks and sideshow Houdinis without succumbing to its ready banalities." In a review in the Chicago Tribune, Porter Shreve noted, "Foregoing the rising and falling action of traditional plot, Day has assembled instead a living museum of the town's history, a portrait gallery of its fascinating residents across time." The reviewer added that "Day employs a yarn-spinning voice that evokes the time and place without ever seeming quaint or overwrought." Wendy Smith, writing in the Los Angeles Times, praised how the author "draws her thematic threads together with impressive skill and lyrical warmth in the final chapter." A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted: "Funny and tough-minded, yet tender and touched with magic: this is a real find."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July, 2004, Kaite Mediatore, review of The Circus in Winter, p. 1817.
Boston Globe, August 22, 2004, Caroline Leavitt, review of The Circus in Winter, p. F9.
Chicago Tribune, June 27, 2004, Porter Shreve, review of The Circus in Winter, p. 5.
Entertainment Weekly, June 25, 2004, Lisa Schwarzbaum, review of The Circus in Winter, p. 170.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2004, review of The Circus in Winter, p. 346.
Library Journal, May 1, 2004, Beth E. Anderson, review of The Circus in Winter, p. 139.
Los Angeles Times, September 12, 2004, Wendy Smith, review of The Circus in Winter, p. R8.
New York Times Book Review, Gary Krist, July 18, 2004, review of The Circus in Winter, p. 21.
People, June 26, 2004, Lee Aitken, review of The Circus in Winter, p. 48.
Publishers Weekly, May 17, 2004, review of The Circus in Winter, p. 33.
Cathy Day Home Page,http://www.cathyday.com (January 11, 2005).
College of New Jersey Web site,http://www.tcnj.edu/ (November 4, 2004), "Cathy Day."