Erens, Pamela

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Erens, Pamela

PERSONAL:

Female.

ADDRESSES:

E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Freelance writer, editor. Previously worked as an editor for Glamour and 7 Days.

AWARDS, HONORS:

New Jersey State Council on the Arts, two-time recipient of the fellowship in fiction; Ironweed Press Fiction Prize and finalist for the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, both 2007, both for The Understory.

WRITINGS:

Fight for Freedom: A Slave Girl's Escape, Shameless Hussy Press (Berkeley, CA), 1978.

The Understory, Ironweed Press (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor of articles, reviews, poetry, and essays to periodical, including the New York Times, New York Newsday, Glamour, O: The Oprah Magazine, Michigan Quarterly Review, New England Review, Ms., and Mother Jones; contributor of short fiction to periodicals and journals including the Chicago Review, Boston Review, Literary Review, Bellingham Review, Upstreet, Skidrow Penthouse, and Redivider.

SIDELIGHTS:

Pamela Erens is a freelance writer and editor, who has worked on the editorial staff of several magazines, including Glamour and 7 Days. As a writer, she has produced numerous articles, reviews, poems, and essays over the course of her career, contributing material to such varied periodicals as the New York Times, New York Newsday, Glamour, O: The Oprah Magazine, Michigan Quarterly Review, New England Review, Ms., and Mother Jones. Her short fiction has appeared in a number of periodicals and journals, including the Chicago Review, Boston Review, Literary Review, Bellingham Review, Upstreet, Skidrow Penthouse, and Redivider.

Erens's first novel, The Understory, was published in 2007 to warm critical acclaim and a number of honors, including the Ironweed Press Fiction Prize. The book tells the story of Jack Gorse, a forty-year-old attorney, who has an "understory" that goes on beneath the more public, obvious layers of his daily life. Suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder, Jack has been unable to work for the past fourteen years, and has only been surviving because he has been living in a rent-controlled apartment that once belonged to his now-dead uncle, supporting himself off the remains of a meager inheritance. His residence there is illegal, as he has never reported the change in tenant, and it is through this legal loophole that he has managed to remain self-sufficient. Now, however, Jack is going to have to move as the building is being renovated and he can no longer maintain his deception. Given the nature of his illness and his fear of change, this alteration in his daily life has Jack terrified. However, this change has also opened him up to new experi- ences, outside the realm of his normal routine that generally has him spending his time in libraries and secondhand bookstores. The opening up to possibility has led to Jack discovering another person—Patrick, the architect in charge of renovating the building—and as unlikely as it seems, Jack finds himself drawn to him, despite all outward signs that this attraction will lead to heartbreak. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly remarked that "Jack's complex reaction is handled cursorily in what is overall a sensitive, restrained debut." Martha E. Stone, reviewing the book for the Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, remarked: "Erens … is a very talented writer, and this slender volume is a welcome contribution to contemporary fiction." Whitney Scott, writing for Booklist, declared that the book "grabs and compels you."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, October 1, 2007, Whitney Scott, review of The Understory, p. 33.

Chicago Tribune, December 22, 2007, review of The Understory.

Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, September 1, 2007, Martha E. Stone, review of The Understory, p. 46.

Publishers Weekly, June 11, 2007, review of The Understory, p. 36.

ONLINE

Mary Akers Blog,http://maryakers.blogspot.com/ (December 5, 2007), review of The Understory.

Pamela Erens Home Page,http://www.pamela-erens.com (April 15, 2008).

Small Spiral Notebook Web site,http://www.smallspiralnotebook.com/ (October 8, 2007), Pedro Ponce, review of The Understory.