Feitell, Merrill 1971–
Feitell, Merrill 1971–
CAREER: Writer. Worked as an editor, proofreader, workshop coordinator, software trainer, and writing instructor.
AWARDS, HONORS: Margaret Bridgman scholar in fiction, Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, 2003; Iowa Short Fiction Award, Iowa Writers' Workshop, 2004, for Here beneath Low-Flying Planes.
Here beneath Low-Flying Planes (short stories), University of Iowa Press (Iowa City, IA), 2004.
Work represented in anthologies, including Best New American Voices 2000, edited by Tobias Wolff. Contributor to magazines, including Book and Glimmer Train.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Any Minute Now, a novel about two half-sisters; a screenplay; and short stories.
SIDELIGHTS: Here beneath Low-Flying Planes, the first book from Merrill Feitell, collects eight stories about people going through experiences that, one way or another, turn out to change their lives. Feitell dubbed her stories "character-driven fiction about human connection" in an interview with Scott Rappaport for the online version of Currents, a publication of the University of California, Santa Cruz, where Feitell earned her bachelor's degree. She further told Rappaport that her work is "about strange, singular encounters with people you never see again—or who eventually become friends—that stimulate change. I think we have a tremendous impact on each other and don't always realize it."
For instance, the stories in Here beneath Low-Flying Planes include "Bike New York!," in which a young man having doubts about his upcoming marriage is refreshed by a chance meeting with a teenager, and "Our Little Lone Star," wherein a middle-aged woman develops a more optimistic attitude toward life after happening upon "some kind of cowboy" during a road trip. Another entry, "Such a Big Mr. England," finds a man obsessed with the British royal family meeting his first grandchild on the day of Princess Diana's funeral, while the title story has a new mother, her husband, and their friends discussing love and relationships.
Some critics thought the author handles the theme of transition effectively. "Feitell explores life's surprising moments with generosity and truth," remarked a Publishers Weekly reviewer, who called the collection a "skillful debut." Booklist contributor Jerry Eberle, meanwhile, praised Feitell's "fidelity to her characters' emotions in their moments of passage—and her glimmering prose." A Kirkus Reviews commentator concluded that the writer is "a talented newcomer" whose stories are "lightened by buoyant wit."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 15, 2004, Jerry Eberle, review of Here beneath Low-Flying Planes, p. 207.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2004, review of Here beneath Low-Flying Planes, p. 762.
Publishers Weekly, August 23, 2004, review of Here beneath Low-Flying Planes, p. 36.
Currents Online, http://currents.ucsc.edu/ (November 15, 2004), Scott Rappaport, "Alumna Wins Prestigious Iowa Fiction Award for First Book of Short Stories."
Merrill Feitell Home Page, http://www.merrillfeitell.com (October 18, 2005).