Strayed, Cheryl 1968–
Strayed, Cheryl 1968–
PERSONAL: Born 1968, in PA; married Brian Lindstrom (a filmmaker); children: two. Education: University of Minnesota, B.A.; Syracuse University, M.F.A., 2002.
ADDRESSES: Home—Portland, OR. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Houghton Mifflin Co., Trade Division Adult Editorial, 8th Fl., 222 Berkeley St., Boston, MA 02116-3764. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Worked variously as a waitress, political organizer, youth advocate, pregnancy prevention counselor, and emergency medical technician.
Torch (novel), Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2005.
Contributor to periodicals, including Allure, Double-Take, New York Times Magazine, and Sun. Work represented in anthologies, including Best American Essays, 2000 and 2003, and The Best New American Voices, 2003.
SIDELIGHTS: Cheryl Strayed, the author of award-winning short stories and essays, grew up in Minnesota and set her debut novel, Torch, in the town of Midden, Minnesota, a fictionalized version of her hometown of McGregor. The story begins with the death of Teresa Rae Wood, a decent woman and minor celebrity who hosted a radio show focusing on living off the land. At age thirty-eight, Teresa was diagnosed with cancer and told she had only months to live. What happens to each member of her broken family after her death is the focus of the novel. Her loving common-law husband, Bruce, who first talks of suicide, then marries their neighbor. Daughter Claire, a responsible college senior, loses all interest in her studies and enters into a relationship with an older man; and son Josh, a typical teen, becomes a meth user and a father.
Library Journal reviewer Joy Humphrey described Torch as "an unforgettable read." A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote that "Strayed effectively taps into the psyche of midwestern America, and her evocative prose leaves an indelible mark." "Though the subject is sad, the novel is not without humor," noted a Publishers Weekly critic. "It shimmers with a humane grace."
Strayed told CA: "I consider writing my calling. I began to write at a very young age and also to read books. My writing has been influenced by many things, literary and not, which essentially boil down to good books, big love, and hard times."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 15, 2005, Joanne Wilkinson, review of Torch, p. 25.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2005, review of Torch, p. 1106.
Library Journal, September 1, 2005, Joy Humphrey, review of Torch, p. 135.
Publishers Weekly, November 7, 2005, review of Torch, p. 47.
Cheryl Strayed Home Page, http://www.cherylstrayed.com (January 11, 2006).