Gallagher, Nora 1949-
GALLAGHER, Nora 1949-
PERSONAL: Born 1949; married Vincent Stanley (a novelist). Education: Graduate of St. John's College, Santa Fe, NM. Religion: Episcopalian.
ADDRESSES: Home—Santa Barbara, CA. Agent— Philippa Brophy, Sterling Lord Linguistic, Inc., 65 Bleecker St., New York, NY 10012.
CAREER: Author and journalist. Time magazine, West Coast bureau chief. Reads and lectures at colleges and churches.
AWARDS, HONORS: Has received fellowships from Wesleyan Writers Conference, 1992, Blue Mountain Center, 1995, 2000, MacDowell Colony, 1996, and the Mesa Refuge, 1999.
Parlor Games, illustrated by Annie Gusman, Addison-Wesley (Reading, MA), 1979.
Simple Pleasures: Wonderful and Wild Things to Do At Home, Addison-Wesley (Reading, MA), 1981.
How to Stop a Sentence, and Other Methods of Managing Words: A Basic Guide to Punctuation, Addison-Wesley (Reading, MA), 1982.
Things Seen and Unseen: A Year Lived in Faith, Knopf (New York, NY), 1998.
(Editor) Patagonia: Notes from the Field, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 1999.
Practicing Resurrection: A Memoir of Discernment, Random House (New York, NY), 2003.
Contributor to publications including: New York Times Magazine, Los Angeles Times Magazine, DoubleTake, Village Voice, Mother Jones, Life, Washington Post, Detroit Free Press, Utne Reader, and others.
SIDELIGHTS: Journalist and author Nora Gallagher has written books on a variety of subjects. Her first two books are guides to passing time. Parlor Games, published in 1979, describes fifty games that readers can use to while away the hours. Simple Pleasures: Wonderful and Wild Things to Do At Home, published in 1981, presents a number of ideas for family recreation ranging from simple things like sorting pictures, to the unusual, like trading houses. Reviewers noted that it is a particularly useful book on rainy or snowy days. How to Stop a Sentence, and Other Methods of Managing Words: A Basic Guide to Punctuation, published in 1982, is a book for children that explains to them a variety of ways to construct interesting sentences.
Things Seen and Unseen: A Year Lived in Faith, is an autobiographical tale about Gallagher's reacquaintance with religion. Having grown up attending the Episcopalian church, she rejected it at the age of twenty. But over a decade later she found herself inclined to return and began to tentatively and secretly re-explore her spiritual side. Eventually Gallagher found a church where she wanted to become actively involved at a time when its membership was falling off sharply. At the Trinity Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara she helped to establish a soup kitchen, traveled with a group of women to Nicaragua, and became a member of the church vestry. These experiences gave her what she was searching for: a sense of community and purpose.
The process of reestablishing her faith, which Gallagher chronicles in Things Seen and Unseen takes about a year. The author structures her very personal tale by juxtaposing everyday events with church rituals and holidays. It begins with Advent and continues through Christmas, Epiphany and Lent, concluding with "Ordinary Time," a term borrowed from the Roman Catholic calendar. As Gallagher observes these holidays, she also deals with profound moments in her personal life, such as the death of a friend and learning that her brother has been diagnosed with cancer. Gallagher's narrative paints not only a portrait of her own experience but of the personality of her congregation as well. The money and member poor church suffers from its own obstacles, like the necessity of 'earthquake-proofing' their building and the touchy issue of their homosexual rector.
Several reviewers praised the author of Things Seen and Unseen for her unique and honest point of view and her sense of clarity and detail. Describing the work in Christian Century, Debra Bendis wrote, "Things Seen and Unseen is in some ways a '90s spiritual soup pot. Gallagher is a skeptical, irreverent and determined seeker. She sorts through experiences before investing in the Christian faith.... Nothing is taken for granted or simply accepted as tradition; everything must be reconsidered." On her quest for spirituality, Gallagher consults a number of interesting sources, from Margaret Drabble and M. Scott Peck, to Van Gogh, Theodore Roethke and Dorothy Day.
Gallagher's articles have appeared in a number of publications, including Life magazine, New York Times Magazine, Los Angeles Times Magazine, and Utne Reader. Among many other topics, she has written about the trail of Patricia Hearst.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 1, 1979, p. 434; January 1, 1982, p. 580.
Christian Century, March 17, 1999, Debra Bendis, review of Things Seen and Unseen: A Year Lived in Faith, p. 308.
Commonweal, March 12, 1999, p. 24.
New York Times Book Review, December 6, 1981, p. 91.
Reading Teacher, March 1984, pp. 642-646.
Sojourners, January, 2000, Jo Ann Heydron, review of Things Seen and Unseen: A Year Lived in Faith, p. 59.
Women's Review of Books, May 1999, pp. 20-21.
Yankee, January 1982, p. 169.*