Graham, Laurie 1941-
Graham, Laurie 1941-
Born November 22, 1941, in Evanston, IL; daughter of Thomas Harlin and Mary Elisabeth Graham; married George McKay Schieffelin (a publishing executive), December 12, 1980 (died, January 1988); married Robert Dale Shearer, April 6, 1994 (died, November, 2002). Education: Attended Mount Holyoke College, 1959-61; University of Colorado, B.A., 1963.
Home—Pittsburgh, PA. E-mail—[email protected]
Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, NY, editor, 1969-87; writer, 1987—. Member of editorial boards of the literary journal "Creative Nonfiction," 1994—, and Duquesne University Press, Emerging Writers in Creative Nonfiction series, 1994—.
PEN, New York Junior League, Colony Club.
Citation for "notable book of the year," New York Times, 1990, for Rebuilding the House.
Rebuilding the House (memoir), Viking (New York, NY), 1990.
Singing the City: The Bonds of Home in an Industrial Landscape, University of Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, PA), 1998.
In Other Words: Tales of Paris and Language, Word Association Publishers (Tarentum, PA), 2007.
Work represented in anthologies, including Pittsburgh Sports: Stories from the Steel City, University of Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, PA), 2000. Contributor of essays to the journal Creative Nonfiction.
During nearly twenty years with the publishing company, Charles Scribner's Sons, Laurie Graham became close with the chairman of the board, George McKay Schieffelin. Although he was thirty-five years her senior, the two were married in 1980. Though the couple spent most of their time in New York City, they kept a country farmhouse in New Jersey, and it was to this rural retreat that Graham moved following her husband's death in 1988.
The house was one-hundred years old and in ill repair; the arduous process of restoring it forms the basis of Graham's memoir, Rebuilding the House. While grappling with faulty plumbing, a lawless garden, contractor negotiations, termites, and a host of other problems, Graham also reconstructs her own emotional life in the wake of her loss. She recollects many episodes in her relationship with Schieffelin, including his teaching her to drive a 1909 Stanley Steamer, which in a moment of personal triumph she pilots solo through the New Jersey countryside. As the transformation of the house proceeds, Graham discovers the fortitude to master her grief and continue to live in the present, as her late husband had hoped she would.
Rebuilding the House has been described as an honest and clear-sighted account of coming to terms with bereavement. Genevieve Stuttaford, writing in Publishers Weekly, called it a "moving, funny story [that] offers quiet entertainment and a testimony to the power of work to heal grief." Though he found the physical restoration of the home only "moderately interesting," New York Times Book Review contributor Noel Perrin made special note of the author's engaging and multifaceted portrait of Schieffelin and her willingness to be critical when appropriate.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Graham, Laurie, Rebuilding the House, Viking (New York, NY), 1990.
Graham, Laurie, Singing the City: The Bonds of Home in an Industrial Landscape, University of Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, PA), 1998.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, May 26, 1991, review of Rebuilding the House, p. 10.
New York Times Book Review, July 8, 1990, Noel Perrin, review of Rebuilding the House, p. 9; March 21, 1999, Holly Brubach, review of Singing the City, p. 22.
Publishers Weekly, May 4, 1990, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of Rebuilding the House, pp. 61-62; September 28, 1998, review of Singing the City, p. 86.