Swallow, Wendy 1954–

views updated

Swallow, Wendy 1954–

PERSONAL: Born October 13, 1954, in Newport, RI; married (marriage ended); married Charles Shepard, 2001; children: two sons, two stepsons. Education: Colby College, B.A.; American University, M.A., 1981. Hobbies and other interests: Playing the piano, cooking, sailing, skiing, yoga.

ADDRESSES: Home—Washington, DC. Office—Department of Communications, American University, 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20016. E-mail[email protected]; [email protected]

CAREER: Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), Washington, DC, volunteer social service worker in Fayette, MS, c. 1976–78, special assistant to the director, c. 1978–80; newspaper reporter in Virginia, 1981–83; Washington Post, Washington, DC, financial reporter, 1983–89; American University, Washington, DC, professor of journalism, 1989–.

WRITINGS:

Breaking Apart: A Memoir of Divorce and Discovery, Hyperion Press (New York, NY), 2001.

The Triumph of Love over Experience: A Memoir of Remarriage, Hyperion Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Also author of Alcohol and Tobacco on the Web: New Threats to Youth and For Sale?: The Editorial Decisions and Real Estate Ads. Contributor to periodicals, including Washingtonian, National Journal, Washington Journalism Review, Journalism Quarterly, Journalism Educator, Newspaper Research Journal, Extra!, Washington Post, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Reader's Digest, Ladies' Home Journal, and Parenting.

SIDELIGHTS: Wendy Swallow combines the precision of a working journalist with the honesty of a feeling individual in her two books on marriage and divorce. A former reporter for the Washington Post and a professor of communications at American University, Swallow has written two memoirs that address her particular situation while painting a broader picture of the stresses related to divorce, single parenthood, remarriage, and step-parenting. Breaking Apart: A Memoir of Divorce and Discovery and The Triumph of Love over Experience: A Memoir of Remarriage draw on Swallow's personal experiences to paint a picture of the steps men and women sometimes take to change their lives.

In Breaking Apart Swallow details her first marriage and the gradual erosion of her relationship with her husband. She details both the positive and negative aspects of divorce, describing how the breakup forced her into compromised economic straits and brought shared custody that robbed her of precious time with her young children. Conversely, undergoing a divorce gave Swallow insight into her own strengths, much-needed moments of solitude and reflection, and a sense of independence. A Publishers Weekly reviewer described Breaking Apart as a "graceful and engrossing memoir." In the Washington Post, Rebecca R. Kahlenhberg called the book a "courageous story, beautifully told," and observed that Swallow "convincingly portrays separation and divorce as the practical move for women in situations like hers."

In 2001 Swallow remarried, but not without qualms. As she recounts in The Triumph of Love over Experience, she and her new husband faced the challenges of a blended family, step-parenting, and making their marriage work in the face of huge demographic odds against its success. Swallow's is "a love story with speed bumps and she tells it with grace, wit and insight," wrote Mark Wolf in the Rocky Mountain News. Patty Engelmann in Booklist likewise called The Triumph of Love over Experience "a fresh and personal account of two very special people."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Swallow, Wendy, Breaking Apart: A Memoir of Divorce and Discovery, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.

Swallow, Wendy, The Triumph of Love over Experience: A Memoir of Remarriage, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2004.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, April 1, 2001, Mary Carroll, review of Breaking Apart, p. 1435; June 1, 2004, Patty Engelmann, review of The Triumph of Love over Experience, p. 1680.

Library Journal, April 1, 2001, Pam Matthews, review of Breaking Apart, p. 119.

Publishers Weekly, March 26, 2001, review of Breaking Apart, p. 81.

Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO), August 14, 2004, Mark Wolf, "Healthy Divorce Key to Remarriage," p. E8.

Washington Post, April 29, 2001, Rebecca R. Kahlenberg, "The Tender Trap," review of Breaking Apart.

ONLINE

Wendy Swallow Home Page, http://www.wendyswallow.com (February 28, 2005).