Richmond, Michelle 1970-
Richmond, Michelle 1970-
Born 1970, in Mobile, AL; married; children: a son. Education: University of Alabama, B.A., 1992; University of Miami, M.F.A., 1998.
Writer and educator. California College of the Arts, San Francisco, teacher in the MFA writing program. Also served as distinguished Writer-in-Residence at St. Mary's College, Moraga, CA, and as distinguished visiting writer at Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH. Previously worked as a magazine writer and advertising copywriter.
Associated Writing Programs Award, for The Girl in the Fall-Away Dress; Mississippi Review Fiction Prize, 2006; fellowships from the James Michener Foundation, Constance Saltonstall Foundation, and Millay Colony for the Arts.
The Girl in the Fall-Away Dress: Stories, University of Massachusetts Press (Amherst, MA), 2001.
Dream of the Blue Room (novel), MacAdam/Cage (San Francisco, CA), 2002.
The Year of Fog (novel), Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2007.
Also author of the blog Sans Serif. Contributor of stories and essays to periodicals, including Glimmer Train, Playboy, Oxford American, Believer, Salon.com, Kenyon Review, and the Missouri Review. Founding editor of Fiction Attic.
Michelle Richmond is an award-winning author of short stories and novels. In her first book, The Girl in the Fall-Away Dress: Stories, the author presents a series of connected stories focusing on one Alabama family that includes four daughters, one a lesbian. In addition, the family has just lost a baby boy because of a miscarriage. The stories primarily tell about the lives of the four sisters as they grow and eventually leave home. A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that the author is "interested in the truth revealed through lies of the heart opened wide, and in the deceit of history." A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that the "writing is perceptive and heartfelt, her subjects at once edgy and familiar."
Richmond's first novel, Dream of the Blue Room, focuses on the relationship between Jenny and her husband, David, as they take a trip down the Yangtze River in China in an effort to save their marriage. The trip comes about partly as a result of Jenny's decision to scatter her half-Chinese childhood friend's ashes there. Jenny was physically attracted to her friend Amanda, who was strangled twelve years earlier. On the cruise, Jenny meets an Australian named Graham who is succumbing to Lou Gehrig's disease and is seeking a special favor. Meanwhile, David sleeps with another young passenger on the boat, essentially dashing any hopes of reconciliation with Jenny, who forms a close relationship with Graham. Referring to Dream of the Blue Room as "an exotic and nimbly fashioned first novel," a Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that the novel's "conflicts … are clarified against a perfidy-filled backdrop of Chinese double-speak." Denise Hoover wrote in Booklist that "the book is finely crafted and compelling, and its emotions resonate true and clear."
A year in the life of Abby Mason is the focus of Richmond's second novel, The Year of Fog, which was called a "mesmerizing novel of loss and grief, hope and redemption" by Karen Fauls-Traynor in the Library Journal. A photographer, Abby loses Emma, the first-grade daughter of her fiancé, when she stops to photograph a dead baby seal on the beach. The police and Jake believe the girl has drowned, but Emma is convinced she was kidnapped. Abby and Emma's dad, Jake, search for her over time but can't find the girl, leading to a breakdown in their relationship due to the trauma and guilt of Emma's disappearance. Joanne Wilkinson, writing in Booklist, called The Year of Fog "a page-turner with a philosophical bent." Referring to the novel as "beautifully paced," a Publishers Weekly contributor added: "The sure-handed denouement reflects the focus and restraint that Richmond brings to bear throughout."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 15, 2003, Denise Hoover, review of Dream of the Blue Room, p. 1050; February 15, 2007, Joanne Wilkinson, review of The Year of Fog, p. 36.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, May, 2002, W.B. Warde, Jr., review of The Girl in the Fall-Away Dress: Stories, p. 1587.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2001, review of The Girl in the Fall-Away Dress, p. 1157; January 1, 2003, review of Dream of the Blue Room, p. 20; March 1, 2007, review of The Year of Fog, p. 6.
Library Journal, February 1, 2003, Reba Leiding, review of Dream of the Blue Room, p. 119; February 15, 2007, Karen Fauls-Traynor, review of The Year of Fog, p. 113.
Mary (St. Mary's College of California), spring, 2006, Leonardo Cuellar "Michelle Richmond," interview with author.
Publishers Weekly, October 22, 2001, review of The Girl in the Fall-Away Dress, p. 49; January 20, 2003, review of Dream of the Blue Room, p. 57; January 22, 2007, review of The Year of Fog, p. 156.
Alabamabound.org,http://www.alabamabound.org/ (July 17, 2007), brief profile of author.
Michelle Richmond Home Page,http://www.michellerichmond.com (July 17, 2007).