PERSONAL: Married; wife's name Jill; children: Alex, Edwin.
CAREER: Journalist; has worked for the Ithaca Journal, Ithaca, NY, and Patuxent Publications, MD.
Alex: The Fathering of a Preemie (memoir), Academy Chicago Publishers (Chicago, IL), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Jeff Stimpson's Alex: The Fathering of a Preemie, described as being "breath-catchingly evocative of life's elemental grace and messy dignity" by a Kirkus Reviews contributor, is the story of his first son, who came into the world weighing twenty-one ounces. The memoir, which includes photographs, begins with Alex's birth in 1998 by caesarian section, prompted by fears that his growth after six and a half months in the womb was too slow and might progress better outside. Alex spent nearly all his first year in the hospital, attached to tubes that kept him alive. Stimpson describes the challenges he and his wife faced when their son finally came home, including Ale's mental and physical limitations and confrontations with their health insurance provider. The Kirkus Reviews contributor commented that "Stimpson writes in a quick and saturated voice fueled by the transience of Alex's condition."
Stimpson divides the book into sections by months, following Alex's progress until he is seven and entering kindergarten, by which time he has a younger brother. A Publishers Weekly reviewer concluded that the book is "a vivid picture of life in a preemie's family that will surely interest other parents of preemies." Idaho State Journal contributor Amy Christensen also approved of the book. She stated, "As rare as it is for a compelling parenting book to come along, it is even more unusual to find a text that would be worthy of recommendation to non-parents."
Stimpson told CA: "I couldn't say what first got me interested in writing for sure. I've been writing since I was about eight, seriously since age thirteen. To tell the truth, it was more like writing got interested in me.
"Writers I admire include Richard Yates, E.B. White, C.S. Forester, Barbara Tuchman, Shirley Jackson, and John Keegan. Among the classics, I especially like William Shakespeare, Herman Melville, and Victor Hugo.
"I work five days a week, the same time every day. My work usually consists of essays of 700 to 1,000 words, often concerning my children. I write snippets of ideas or observations, later building these into sentences and paragraphs that I embellish and rearrange into the final piece.
"The most surprising thing I have learned as a writer is the power that people still accord the published word."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Stimpson, Jeff, Alex: The Fathering of a Preemie, Academy Chicago Publishers (Chicago, IL), 2004.
Booklist, December 1, 2004, Vanessa Bush, review of Alex, p. 625.
Idaho State Journal, August, 2005, Amy Christensen, review of Alex, p. 28.
Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2004, review of Alex, p. 952.
Library Journal, December 1, 2004, KellyJo Houtz, review of Alex, p. 144.
Publishers Weekly, November 8, 2004, review of Alex, p. 43.
Jeff Stimpson Home Page, http://www.jeffslife.net (January 11, 2006).