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Fusselman, Amy

Fusselman, Amy

PERSONAL:

Married; children: two sons. Education: Attended college in Columbus, OH; Boston University, M.A.

ADDRESSES:

Home—New York, NY.

CAREER:

Writer. Surgery of Modern Warfare (creative writing Web site), former editor; previously maintained a fanzine, Bunny Rabbit, 1993-98; played rhythm guitar for a punk band, The Bread Group, Columbus, OH.

WRITINGS:

The Pharmacist's Mate, McSweeney's Books (Brooklyn, NY), 2001.

As Smart as We Are (sound recording), Soft Skull Press (New York, NY), 2004.

8: All True Unbelievable, Counterpoint Press (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to periodicals, including Pierogi Press, Emergency Gazette, and McSweeney's.

SIDELIGHTS:

Amy Fusselman is a writer, a wife, and a mother, but over the course of her career she has devoted herself to a range of interesting jobs—all of which help to inspire her writing. When she first arrived in New York City and needed a job, the first work she accepted found her working for a company that shot photographs of towels for advertising purposes, with her sole responsibility the folding of the towels. Each towel needed to be folded properly, and the same as the other towels, so that the stacks would look neat and appropriate when the photos were taken. She also spent time writing headlines, an endeavor she describes as "really grim" in an interview for the Gothamist Web site. At one point, while attending college in Columbus, Ohio, Fusselman played rhythm guitar for a punk band called The Bread Group, along with her now-husband, who was another band member. But ultimately it was writing that captured Fusselman's interest, particularly writing that managed to convey the truths of life in an honest manner. She earned a master's degree in English and creative writing from Boston University, then sat down to become serious about writing. The result was a fanzine that she ran herself, called Bunny Rabbit, as well as a stint editing and updating the Surgery of Modern Warfare Web site. She is also the author of full-length books, including The Pharmacist's Mate and 8: All True Unbelievable.

Fusselman wrote The Pharmacist's Mate at a difficult time in her life, when she was trying to deal with her father's death and at the same time trying to become pregnant with her first child. The book chronicles these two seemingly disparate events, telling the story of her father's life with excerpts included from his journal kept in 1945 as a purser/pharmicist's mate on the Liberty Ship George E. Pickett. Fusselman began the book intending it as a contest submission for McSweeney's, and she ultimately won. After McSweeney's released The Pharmacist's Mate through their book-publishing arm, it went on to get a second print run through Penguin Books. Jessa Crispin, in an interview with Fusselman for the Bookslut Web site, observed that "it's a lovely chronicle of a family without falling into sentimentality or cuteness and also without obvious censoring."

8, Fusselman's follow-up effort, collects a series of essays of a sort, each of which is tied to the rest by the use of a large number eight at the top of the page. The number sometimes has obvious references, such as in the case of the memory of childhood ice-skating lessons, and the necessity of practicing to skate in a perfect figure eight. Likewise, the eight could refer to repetition, a theme that also appears in a number of the essays. Not all of the essays are nostalgic and light, however, such as one that deals with Fusselman's rape when she was quite young, by the husband of her babysitter. As with The Pharmacist's Mate, 8 is a memoir that comes across in bits and pieces, shedding light gradually until more of a portrait begins to shine through. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews had a mixed impression of the book, stating that "Fusselman's freewheeling memoir is alternately serious and trivial, entertaining and exasperating." Pedro Ponce, reviewing for the Small Spiral Notebook Web site, observed: "If The Pharmacist's Mate is a book about loss, 8 is concerned with what remains in its wake. What remains is difficult, provisional, always in progress but also resilient and, at times, joyful. Like the figure 8's Fusselman recalls practicing as a young figure skater, Fusselman's latest is intricate, elliptical, and hard-won."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Fusselman, Amy, The Pharmacist's Mate, McSweeney's Books (Brooklyn, NY), 2001.

Fusselman, Amy, 8: All True Unbelievable, Counterpoint Press (New York, NY), 2007.

PERIODICALS

Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2007, review of 8, p. 205.

Library Journal, April 1, 2007, Dorris Douglass, review of 8, p. 104.

Vogue, July, 2001, Megan O'Grady, review of The Pharmacist's Mate, p. 118.

ONLINE

Bookslut,http://www.bookslut.com/ (April 17, 2008), Jessa Crispin, "An Interview with Amy Fusselman."

Fresh Fiction,http://freshfiction.com/ (May 8, 2007), review of 8.

Gothamist,http://gothamist.com/ (June 18, 2007), Ben Kharakh, "Amy Fusselman, Author, 8."

McSweeney's Web site,http://www.mcsweeneys.net/ (April 17, 2008), author profile.

Phoenix,http://thephoenix.com/ (June 6, 2007), "Interview with Author Amy Fusselman."

Small Spiral Notebook,http://www.smallspiralnotebook.com/ (May 14, 2007), Pedro Ponce, review of 8.

3 AM Magazine,http://www.3ammagazine.com/ (April 17, 2008), "Literature: An Interview with Amy Fusselman."

Time Out New York Online,http://www.timeout.com/ (May 17, 2007), Jesse Sposato, review of 8.

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