PERSONAL: Given name is pronounced "mame-eve"; born in Bangor, ME; daughter of Harry (a lawyer) and Mimi (a teacher) Stern; married Howard Medwed (a lawyer), August 9, 1964; children: Daniel, Jonathan. Education: Simmons College, B.A. (with honors), 1964; attended writing workshops at Brandeis University and Radcliffe. Politics: Democrat. Hobbies and other interests: Art, literature, movies, food.
CAREER: Cambridge Center for Adult Education, Cambridge, MA, instructor for fiction writing workshops, 1979—. Lesley College, mentor for master's degree in fine arts program, 1986-88; Simmons College, Robert M. Gay Memorial Lecturer, 1996. Advanced fiction workshop, teacher, 1985-86; Company of Writers, teacher of advanced creative writing workshop, 1994-95; panelist and member, Virginia Center for the Book; board member, Cambridge Center for Adult Education; gives readings and public lectures; participant on library panels and at book festivals.
MEMBER: Authors Guild, PEN New England.
AWARDS, HONORS: Finalist, Massachusetts Artists Foundation Award, 1985; honored author, Library Lover's Annual Dinner, 2003.
Mail (novel), Warner Books (New York, NY), 1997.
Host Family, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2000.
The End of an Error (novel), Warner Books (New York, NY), 2003.
The Celebrity Register, researcher and writer, 1963; contributor of stories, articles, and reviews to periodicals, including Newsday, Kirkus Reviews, Playgirl, Redbook, Nantucket Review, Boston Globe, Missouri Review, Yankee, Readerville Journal, Ascent, and Confrontation.
ADAPTATIONS: Mail was adapted for audio cassette, 1997, and has been optioned as a motion picture by Archer Street Films, directed by Sharon Maguire and screenplay written by Wendy Wasserstein.
SIDELIGHTS: Described by a New York Times Book Review critic as a "wacky, funny . . . off-the-wall send-up of the take-charge-of-your-life novel," Mameve Medwed's first novel, Mail, "was enjoyed by many," observed Beth Gibbs in a Library Journal report, "and she does not disappoint with her second, engaging book." Gibbs was referring to Host Family, a comedy of manners set in the academic whirl of Cambridge, Massachusetts. After twenty years of marriage, fortyish Henry and Daisy Lewis seem to have a charmed future in store. Their grown son, Sam, is about to attend Harvard; the couple is looking forward to hosting yet another foreign-exchange student, the French beauty Giselle. But something is different this year. Henry develops a Francophile obsession, which turns to passion for Giselle. Meanwhile, Daisy is noticed by Truman Wolff, "a parasitologist whose studies of 'virus-host relationships' seem particularly apt," according to a Publishers Weekly contributor. In another twist to the story, Sam has grown enamored of Truman's teenage daughter, Phoebe, but loses her to the dashing Andrea, an Italian exchange student.
"Throughout this novel," stated Roisin Fagan in Bookreporter, "Medwed weaves metaphors comparing relationships to parasites of every sort: lice, tapeworms, even computer viruses." It wasn't the metaphors that gave Christopher Atamian pause, but rather the characterization. In a New York Times Book Reviewpiece, Atamian assessed Host Family as a novel "meant to be a study of community and family," but found that "you don't empathize with [Medwed's] characters, who seem to lack vision and will." Harriet Klausner, on the other hand, told BookBrowser that those same key characters "are fully developed so that the audience can moan and groan in tune to their actions and reactions." To the Publishers Weekly critic, the book is "a cuttingly funny and heartwarming tale."
In her third book, The End of an Error, Medwed follows a middle-aged woman as she tries to determine if she should remain with the devoted, but routine husband she married or attempt to reunite with her first love, an English boy she met while a teen. Of The End of an Error, a Booklist critic thought, "This witty and diverting and even enchanting look at middle age should make Medwed a household name," while a Boston Globe critic found that Medwed "has a gift for descriptive detail, finding pathos and humor in the stuff of everyday life."
In an essay for Author! Author!, Medwed revealed that the impetus for Host Family came from her own background: "For twenty-five years, my husband and I have been hosting international students who come to study at Harvard," she wrote. "We've faced thousands of challenging meals, experienced dozens of instances of culture shock, . . . and displayed not always tasteful or even recognizable souvenirs on our table tops."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 1, 1997, review of Mail, p. 1282; May 15, 2003, Patty Engelmann, review of The End of an Error, p. 1644.
Books, December, 1997, review of Mail, p. 20.
Bookwatch, July, 1997, review of Mail, p. 11.
Boston Globe, July 21, 2003, review of The End of an Error, and "Between the Lines with Mameve Medwed."
Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 1997, review of Mail, p. 410; December 1, 1999, review of Host Family, p. 1834.
Library Journal, June 15, 1997, review of Mail, p. 98; September 15, 1997, review of Mail, p. 128; October 1, 1997, review of Mail, p. 50; January, 2000, Beth Gibbs, review of Host Family, p. 161; May 15, 2003, Nancy Pearl, review of The End of an Error, p. 126.
New York Times Book Review, July 13, 1997, review of Mail, p. 18; February 13, 2000, Christopher Atamian, review of Host Family.
Publishers Weekly, March 3, 1997, review of Mail, p. 62; July 7, 1997, review of Mail (audio version), p. 33; November, 22, 1999, review of Host Family, p. 40; May 5, 2003, review of The End of an Error, p. 195.
Rapport, number 2, 1997, review of Mail, p. 22.
Author! Author!,http://www.twbookmark.com/ (July 17, 2002), Mameve Medwed, "How I Came to Write Host Family."
BookBrowser,http://www.bookbrowser.com/, February 18, 2000, Harriet Klausner, review of Host Family.
Bookreporter,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (July 17, 2002), Roisin Fagan, review of Host Family.