PERSONAL: Female. Education: Middlebury College, B.A., 1988; University of Michigan, M.F.A., 1991.
CAREER: University of North Carolina at Wilmington, assistant professor of creative writing.
AWARDS, HONORS: Mary Roberts Rinehart Award for Emerging Writers; Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award, 2004; fellowships from Fine Arts Work Center (Provincetown, MA), Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, American Antiquarian Society, and National Endowment for the Arts.
Bandit Letters, New Issues Press (Kalamazoo, MI), 2001.
Red House: Being a Mostly Accurate Account of NewEngland's Oldest Continuously Lived-in House, Viking (New York, NY), 2004.
Contributor of poetry and articles to periodicals, including Kenyon Review, Paris Review, Yankee, and Boulevard.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A nonfiction book about Tibetan Buddhism and its teachers.
SIDELIGHTS: Sarah Messer's Red House: Being a Mostly Accurate Account of New England's Oldest Continuously Lived-in House grew from her work restoring old houses, first with her father and later with a sister and brother-in-law. In 1965 Messer's father bought Red House, a New England home that had been in the same family for nine generations. Messer's book records not only her own experiences of growing up in the ancient home, but also the history of the Hatch family, who owned the property from 1647 until 1965. To quote Kristen Paulson in the Boston Globe, Messer "chronicles both families' tenancies in alternating chapters, switching between Messer remembrances and tales of the Hatches that are rife with South Shore history."
Red House grew from an article Messer wrote about its restoration and its quirky former inhabitants for Yankee magazine. In a Booklist review of the work, Alan Moores credited Messer with "a poet's ear, an architect's eye," and an "historian's attention to detail." The same critic described Red House as "an important historical document." A Kirkus Reviews contributor liked Messer's "handsome voice" in the chronicle, calling the book "another revitalizing breath to sustain the Red House." In Publishers Weekly, a correspondent concluded that the author "gives readers a great sense of the power of a house to pull and shape its inhabitants."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 15, 2004, Alan Moores, review of RedHouse, p. 1595.
Boston Globe, July 22, 2004, Kristen Paulson, "Two-Family Housemessers Have Lived in Marshfield Manse Thirty-nine Years; The Previous Family Stayed 318,"p. H1.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2004, review of Red House, p. 315.
Publishers Weekly, May 3, 2004, review of Red House, p. 181.
Virginia Quarterly Review, fall, 2004, review of RedHouse, p. 288.
University of North Carolina—Wilmington Web site,http://www.uncw.edu/ (December 16, 2004), "Sarah Messer."*