Romm, Robin 1975-
Romm, Robin 1975-
Home—Santa Fe, NM. Office—College of Santa Fe, 1600 St. Michael's Dr., Santa Fe, NM 87505. Agent—Maria Massie, Lippincott, Massie, McQuilkin, 80 5th Ave., Ste. 101, New York, NY 10011. E-mail—[email protected].
College of Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM, assistant professor of creative writing and literature.
The Mother Garden (short stories), Scribner (New York, NY), 2007.
Contributor to periodicals, including Tin House, One Story, Threepenny Review, and Quarterly West.
Robin Romm is a short-story writer who also teaches creative writing. Her debut short-story collection is The Mother Garden. In describing the collection on her MySpace profile, Romm stated: "The stories stretch truths about family and death—and there's some love and sex on the side." New York Times Book Review critic S. Kirk Walsh observed: "In Ms. Romm's impressive collection of twelve stories, a dead or dying parent is featured in ten of them. And for the most part she delivers, offering surprising takes on the universal subject." Gregory Cowles, in another New York Times Book Review piece, commented: "At their smartest and most striking, these stories are less about death than about the characters' defensive crouch in the face of it." In "The Arrival," a daughter faces the impending death of her mother as they spend a last vacation together on the Oregon shore. For her part, the mother copes by shopping. "The Egg Game" finds a young couple involved in the classic social science activity of taking care of an egg as they would a child, trying to find out if they are ready to become parents. They soon realize that the situation is a lot more difficult than they expected.
Other characteristics of Romm's stories proved appealing to critics. Walsh remarked: "As is true with many of her stories, Ms. Romm skillfully introduces an element of whimsical surrealism that brings more life—and sadness—to her characters' experiences." The characters in "The Arrival" must deal not only with the family matriarch's impending death, but also with an unexpected guest, a diminutive but surly young woman named Gracie who literally walks up out of the ocean and into the character's lives. The protagonist of "Lost and Found" discovers her long-lost father in the desert; he is naked and wrapped in a sheet, and a note is tied to his foot that reads: "This is your father. Do as you will." After abandoning her years before, his presence in her current life becomes more and more intrusive.
Some of Romm's stories contain unusual twists and odd settings that border on magical realism, such as the title story, in which a man and woman tend a garden in which they plant not greenery, but symbolic representations of their dead mothers with whom they continue to interact. In another, doctors discover dozens of colored beads in a woman's stomach after she dies; her daughter uses the beads to make a necklace, which she uses as an unlikely talisman to keep her mother close to her. The "bizarre twists in Romm's otherwise familiar stories require the reader to take leaps of faith," but Romm "handles the material delicately and matter-of-factly, making it believable," commented a Kirkus Reviews contributor. Booklist reviewer Katherine Boyle observed that "a combination of spare prose and fantastic events makes Romm's seemingly simple tales startling and compelling."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, June 1, 2007, Katherine Boyle, review of The Mother Garden, p. 38.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2007, review of The Mother Garden.
New York Times Book Review, July 8, 2007, Gregory Cowles, "Death Becomes Her," review of The Mother Garden, p. 17; July 11, 2007, S. Kirk Walsh, "Families Lost, and the Ties That Fray," review of The Mother Garden.
Robin Romm Home Page,http://www.robinromm.com (February 26, 2008).
Robin Romm MySpace Profile,http://www.myspace.com/robin_romm (February 26, 2008).