Myerson, Julie 1960–
Myerson, Julie 1960–
Born June 2, 1960, in Nottingham, England; daughter of Geoffrey (a printer) and Maritza (an estate agent) Pike; partner of Jonathan Myerson (a writer); children: Jacob, Chloe, Raphael. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: University of Bristol, B.A. (with honors). Politics: Labour. Hobbies and other interests: Gardening.
Home—London, England. Agent—Gill Coleridge, Rogers, Coleridge & White, 20 Powis Mews, London W11 1JN, England.
Writer and journalist. Royal National Theatre, London, England, publicist, 1983-86; Walker Books, London, publicist, 1986-93; novelist and freelance writer, 1993—.
2005 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, 2005, for Something Might Happen.
Sleepwalking, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1994.
The Touch, Nan A. Talese (New York, NY), 1996.
Me and the Fat Man, Ecco (New York, NY), 1998.
Laura Blundy, Viking Penguin (New York, NY), 2000.
Something Might Happen, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2003.
The Story of You, Jonathan Cape (London, UK), 2006.
Out of Breath, Jonathan Cape (London, UK), 2007.
Home: The Story of Everyone Who Ever Lived in Our House, Flamingo (London, UK), 2004.
Not a Games Person (memoir), Yellow Jersey (London, UK), 2005.
Contributor of reviews and articles to periodicals, including the Independent, and radio programs.
The Story of You has been optioned for film by FilmFour and Minghella.
Julie Myerson is a novelist and journalist whose novels, unlike her more lighthearted journalistic essays, explore a darker world of relationships and families and usually feature alienated characters in perverse relationships. For example, her first novel, Sleepwalking, explores the taboo topic of a pregnant woman embarking on an affair after her father commits suicide. Writing on the Contemporary Writers Web site, Amanda Thursfield noted that the author "does not expose the details or the perverseness of the act itself, she is far more concerned with illustrating the simple fact that in the reckless, often selfish search for love and understanding, moral scruples dictated by society have little importance." As Susan continues her affair, she finds herself haunted by the ghost of her father as she edges toward madness, only to be saved by the birth of her son. Denise Perry Donavin, writing in Booklist, referred to Sleepwalking as "an impressionable, sentient first novel." Joanne Kaufman commented in People that the author "makes palpable Susan's pain, telling her story in strong, self-assured prose."
In her next novel, The Touch, Myerson tells the story of three Londoners who find a man lying unconscious on the ground after a robbery. The man turns out to be a wandering faith healer named Frank Chapman. He soon becomes part of the lives of Donna, Frank, and Will when he cures Donna of scoliosis merely with his touch. As the story progresses, the reader learns of Frank's past life and his attempt to bring back to life his dead son. Mary Ellen Quinn wrote in Booklist that "this skillfully written novel [has] a complexity and a disturbing edge." A Publishers Weekly contributor commented: "The writing is clear and neat throughout, and … her words flow along in a quiet and compelling manner."
Me and the Fat Man focuses on the life and world of twenty-seven-year-old Amy, who is a waitress who makes extra money by picking up men and having sex with them, even though she is married. Brought up by unlikable foster parents, Amy thinks about her mother, a beautiful woman who drowned when Amy was only six years old. Eventually, an older man named Harris comes to the restaurant where Amy works and says that he knew her mother. He says he will tell Amy her mother's life story. However, a friend of Harris's, Gary, the "fat man," tells a story that doesn't quite fit in with the one Harris presents. "Somebody is lying, hiding crimes," wrote Deborah Weisgall in the New York Times Book Review. "These crimes, as in all of Myerson's work, are crimes of the heart." Library Journal contributor Jan Blodgett commented that "the darkness of this novel is balanced with gritty humor and a glimmer of hope."
Laura Blundy takes place in nineteenth-century London where the title character bludgeons her physician husband to death. The rest of the story is told in flashbacks as Laura and her boyfriend try to get rid of the body. In the process, the reader learns of Laura's past life, which goes from living in comfort to being raped and living on the streets of London while pregnant. She meets her husband after years of spending time in prison and living on charity when he runs over her with a carriage and has to amputate her leg. However, Laura is unable to feel real love or gratitude and eventually embarks on a bizarre affair with a married young man who has a job as a digger for the new sewers of London. "The novel contains starkly realistic portrayals of London's seamy underworld and grisly descriptions of amputation and dismemberment," noted Reba Leiding in the Library Journal. A Publishers Weekly contributor commented: "Myerson is crafty and unsparing with her words; the pages jump with a lively expressiveness that delivers a tremendous kick."
Something Might Happen was called "a sensitively written story of psychological suspense and even horror" by BookLoons Web site contributor Hilary Williamson. The novel tells the story of Tess, a chiropractor's assistant living in an English seaside town. When her friend, the beautiful Lennie, is murdered, Tess begins to fall apart despite having a wonderful marriage and four children. Eventually, Tess is screaming at her children and becoming distant from her husband as she finds herself edging toward an affair with Lacey, a victim support detective. "This is a tour de force, the best novel Julie Myerson has written—and that is saying something," wrote Kate Kellaway in the London Telegraph. Denise Hoover commented in Booklist that the author's "writing is so strong that it's impossible not to see and smell what is happening."
The Story of You features another tormented protagonist in the form of Rosy, who suffers a mental breakdown following the death of her daughter in an accident. To escape from her life, Rosy spends her time romanticizing about a past boyfriend from her college days. As the story progresses, she encounters him once again and the two bond only to have him disappear from her life for a second time, leaving her to wonder if it was all a dream. "This is an extraordinary, peculiar, mesmerising novel—the collective wail of middle-aged feminine anguish is brilliantly articulated," wrote Kate Saunders in the New Statesman.
Myerson has also written nonfiction books, beginning with Home: The Story of Everyone Who Ever Lived in Our House. As the title suggests, Myerson tells the stories of all the families that once lived in her Victorian home. Keris Stainton, writing on the Trashionista Web site, noted that the novel is about more than other families. Stainton wrote that "it's also Julie's story and the story of how books like this come to be written." In the book, the author also revisits many of the homes she has lived in during her life. Stainton called the book "incredible, joyful, inspiring and life-affirming." Spectator contributor Philip Hensher commented: "Festive, curious, full of other lives and voices and quiet existences raised to the exuberant point of historical pageantry, Home is a perfect example of what can be done by just sitting down and looking long and hard enough at a single idea."
Not a Games Person is Myerson's memoir of her grade school days and how she never quite felt comfortable in the competitive environment. It also covers Myerson's relationship with her daughter, who seems to be diametrically opposite to Myerson when she was in school. Ann Widdecombe, writing in the New Statesman, called Not a Games Person "warm, witty and perhaps a little sad."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Myerson, Julie, Not a Games Person, Yellow Jersey (London, UK), 2005.
Booklist, February 1, 1995, Denise Perry Donavin, review of Sleepwalking, p. 990; June 1, 1996, Mary Ellen Quinn, review of The Touch, p. 1676; October 1, 2003, Danise Hoover, review of Something Might Happen, p. 300.
Bookseller, May 14, 2004, "Myerson Up," p. 15; February 10, 2006, "Myerson Moves to Bloomsbury," p. 13.
Commonweal, June 18, 1999, review of Me and the Fat Man, p. 29.
Financial Times, June 14, 2003, Lilian Pizzichini, "Fiction—a Bloody Tale of Everyday Living," p. 37; May 1, 2004, Tracey Taylor, "The Books That Matter to Julie Myerson; the Me, Me, Me Style of Literature Is Anathema to This Writer, Who Prefers a Proper Plot," p. 46.
Glamour, January, 1995, Laura Mathews, review of Sleepwalking, p. 117.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2003, review of Something Might Happen, p. 1040.
Library Journal, January, 1995, Darryl Dean James, review of Sleepwalking, p. 138; May 1, 1996, Nancy Pearl, review of The Touch, p. 132; April 15, 1999, Jan Blodgett, review of Me and the Fat Man, p. 145; September 15, 2000, Reba Leiding, review of Laura Blundy, p. 113.
London Observer, May 18, 2003, Kate Kellaway, review of Something Might Happen.
London Review of Books, August 18, 2005, review of Not a Games Person, p. 28; July 20, 2006, "A Bowl of Wheetos," review of The Story of You, p. 33.
Los Angeles Times, January 25, 2001, Paula Friedman, review of Laura Blundy, p. 1.
Ms. Magazine, January-February, 1995, Kate Rounds, review of Sleepwalking, p. 70.
New Statesman, May 24, 2004, "Skeletons in the Closet," p. 53; June 6, 2005, Ann Widdecombe, "Just Get on with It," review of Not a Games Person, p. 51; June 5, 2006, Kate Saunders, "Psychic Scream," review of The Story of You, p. 54.
New York Times Book Review, July 21, 1996, Tobin Harshaw, review of The Touch; June 6, 1999, Deborah Weisgall, review of Me and the Fat Man.
People, April 3, 1995, Joanne Kaufman, review of Sleepwalking, p. 33.
Publishers Weekly, December 5, 1994, review of Sleepwalking, p. 65; April 29, 1996, review of The Touch, p. 52; April 19, 1999, review of Me and the Fat Man, p. 63; August 21, 2000, review of Laura Blundy, p. 43; October 13, 2003, review of Something Might Happen, p. 58.
Spectator, March 28, 1998, Anne Chisholm, review of Me and the Fat Man, p. 31; April 8, 2000, Teresa Waugh, review of Laura Blundy, p. 39; June 14, 2003, D.J. Taylor, "An Ill Wind," review of Something Might Happen, p. 66; May 8, 2004, Philip Hensher, "Other Voices, the Same Rooms," review of Home: The Story of Everyone Who Ever Lived in Our House, p. 37; June 11, 2005, Zenga Curtis, "Damsels in Distress," review of Not a Games Person, p. 42.
Times Educational Supplement, April 12, 1996, review of The Touch, p. 9; June 10, 2005, Geraldine Brennan, review of Not a Games Person, p. 19.
Times Literary Supplement, November 4, 1994, review of Sleepwalking, p. 24; May 10, 1996, Gina Larman, review of The Touch, p. 23; April 17, 1998, review of Me and the Fat Man, p. 23; May 12, 2000, review of Laura Blundy, p. 21; July 11, 2003, Roz Kaveney, review of Something Might Happen, p. 23; June 11, 2004, Gillian Tindall, "Crowded House," review of Home, p. 27; June 16, 2006, Sarah Curtis, "One Snowy Night," review of The Story of You, p. 23; September 1, 2006, Josh Raymond, review of Not a Games Person, p. 29.
Tribune Books, March 26, 1995, review of Sleepwalking, p. 6.
BookLoons,http://bookloons.com/ (November 16, 2007), Hilary Williamson, review of Something Might Happen.
Contemporary Writers,http://www.contemporarywriters.com/ (November 16, 2007), Amanda Thursfield, biography of author.
La Terrasse Web log,http://la-terrasse.blogspot.com/ (October 7, 2006), review of Something Might Happen.
Mostly Fiction,http://www.mostlyfiction.com/ (October 5, 2003), Judi Clark, review of Something Might Happen.
Time Out, http://www.timeout.com/ (May 22, 2006),
Trashionista,http://www.trashionista.com/ (May 4, 2007), review of Home.