Tara Prize for short fiction, Heekin Foundation; editors' award in poetry, Florida Review, for short story "Solomon and His Wives"; fiction prize, Phoebe, for short story "Pink Is for Punks"; Sonora Fiction Award, Sonora Review, 1996, for short story "Waiting to Discover Electricity"; National Endowment for the Arts WritersCorps fellowship; National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship.
The Porno Girl, and Other Stories (includes "Solomon and His Wives," "Pink Is for Punks," and "Waiting to Discover Electricity"), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2003, published as Save Yourself, and Other Stories, Picador (London, England), 2004.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
A novel for St. Martin's Press.
In her debut collection, The Porno Girl, and Other Stories, writer Merin Wexler offers a selection of works on women's relationships in a contemporary world. "Each story is about a woman and a relationship: to her husband, to her mother, to her child, to another woman, to herself," observed reviewer Sarah Rachel Egelman on BookReporter.com.
The stories in the book "are not as sexually explicit as the title suggests," Egelman commented, but all of the characters "are deeply conflicted by the expectations of their roles," noted Amanda Nash in the Women's Review of Books. Nash also noted, "Wexler does not balk at examining the seamy sides of their conflicts." In the title story, for example, a new mother seeks relief from post-partum depression in the titillating atmosphere of a sex shop, where she earns the nickname "Porno Girl." With her infant daughter in tow, she compulsively watches videos and looks over the shop's wares, wracked with guilt at what she is doing but unable to stop her search—not for sex or even a surrogate for sex, but for the identity of the sexual being she was before the birth of her child. "This intriguing storyline allows Wexler to illuminate the difficulty of staying true to one's own instincts in the face of motherhood, and the sacrifice of identity that such a role requires," observed Harvard Book Review contributor Amelia Atlas.
In "Solomon and His Wives," a young woman is trying to avoid her husband, who wants her to conceive their child. Instead, she has an affair with a seventy-two-year-old man from the art class she teaches at the local nursing home. Schuyler, the main character of "Waiting to Discover Electricity," idolizes Carolyn, the mother of the children she baby-sits. "The story conjures up every older sister and baby-sitter from one's formative years," noted Sheelah Kolhatkar in the New York Observer. Kolhatkar remarked, however, that "Schuyler's simultaneous love and betrayal of her mentor exposes the dark undercurrent of intimate relationships."
" The Porno Girl, while not revolutionary, represents a brave and forthright feminist voice," Egelman stated. "Wexler's heroines aren't fascinating because of their problems, but because of the ways they deal with them," Kolhatkar added. Nash concluded, "Wexler has an unusual talent for illuminating the moment when people recognize but have to turn away from each other's vulnerability. It's a painful moment—and her stories can be intensely discomfiting at times—but her ability to render it is elating."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2003, review of The Porno Girl, and Other Stories, pp. 505-506.
Publishers Weekly, May 26, 2003, review of The Porno Girl, and Other Stories, pp. 48-49.
Women's Review of Books, July, 2003, Amanda Nash, review of The Porno Girl, and Other Stories, pp. 25-27.
Harvard Book Review Web site,http://hcs.harvard.edu/ (summer, 2003), Amelia Atlas, review of The Porno Girl, and Other Stories.
Journal News Online,http://www.thejournalnews.com/ (December 7, 2003), review of The Porno Girl, and Other Stories.
New York Observer Online,http://www.observer.com/ (June 30, 2004), Sheelah Kolhatkar, review of The Porno Girl, and Other Stories.*