Wildgen, Michelle 1974(?)-
Wildgen, Michelle 1974(?)-
Born c. 1974; married. Education: Studied at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Sarah Lawrence College, M.F.A.
Editor and writer. Tin House magazine, New York, NY, intern, then senior editor; Tin House Books, New York, NY, editor. Hall Farm Center resident.
Virginia Faulkner Award, Prairie Schooner, for excellence in writing.
You're Not You (novel), Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2006.
(Editor and contributor) Food and Booze: A Tin House Literary Feast (anthology), Tin House Books (Portland, OR), 2006.
(Contributor) Death by Pad Thai: And Other Unforgettable Meals (anthology), edited by Douglas Bauer, Three Rivers Press (New York, NY), 2006.
Also contributor of stories to Best New American Voices 2004, Best Food Writing 2004, and A Memorable Feast. Contributor to journals and periodicals, including StoryQuarterly, TriQuarterly, Gulf Coast, Small Spiral Notebook, Salt Hill, New York Times, Isthmus, Madison magazine, and Prairie Schooner.
Michelle Wildgen is a writer and editor. Wildgen studied at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and at Sarah Lawrence College in New York. She used her experience as a fiction contributor to numerous periodicals to land a job, first as an intern, and later as an editor, at Tin House magazine and Tin House Books in New York. She also contributes to anthologies.
Wildgen published her first novel, You're Not You, in 2006. Kate, who is suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease, advertises in the newspaper for a caregiver, an ad that is answered by Bec, a college student with little sense of direction and who is having a go-nowhere affair with a professor. Over the course of the work relationship, the two women become friends as Bec becomes more comfortable caring for Kate and learns about who she really is, learns selflessness, and matures emotionally.
Shari Goldhagen, writing on the KGB Bar Web site about books covering illnesses, noted that "while readers want their authors to get the details of a disease right, the works that resonate are the ones where character trumps biology…. Wildgen manages to do just that." In mentioning the fact that the book was adapted from a short story, Goldhagen commented that "while it's beautifully written and finely observed, there are parts where the padding to make it novel-length shows." She pointed out that "the beginning especially feels forced." Erin Frauenhofer, writing on the PopMatters Web site, stated that "if you're expecting something fresh through and through, you'll be a bit disgruntled to find that you've read this story before, or seen it on TV, or watched the movie—the characters' names and faces being the only big difference. But if you're looking for another tender rendition, something to touch the right chord within, You're Not You is as good as it gets." Krista Walton, writing on the Bookslut Web site, disagreed with this assessment, noting that "perhaps it's that essential familiarity of the story that makes You're Not You, despite being an initially engrossing read, seem tedious by the end." Walton found that "the central plot is painfully familiar" but observed that the individual characters are "well-crafted." In a Library Journal review, Robin Nesbitt wrote that reading the "intriguing" book is "very satisfying." Nesbitt commented that "with the help of the well-developed and believable characters, readers become immersed in the story." A contributor to Kirkus Reviews remarked: "No cheap tear-jerker here, but a novel that tackles challenging material with honesty and a clear eye." The same contributor added that "Wildgen's attention to detail demonstrates impressive maturity and skill." A contributor to Publishers Weekly commented that "Wildgen's debut showcases the talent that won her inclusion in Best New American Voices 2004, and should take her further still."
Also in 2006, Wildgen edited Food and Booze: A Tin House Literary Feast. The book compiles recipes and commentary on food and drinks from established writers. Wildgen also contributes recipes in addition to her editing work on the text. Kelly McMasters, writing in Time Out New York, noted that "Wildgen's piece ‘Ode to an Egg’ is particularly delectable, as is her recipe for eggs with mushrooms and truffles." McMasters also added that other food books merely focus on food trends and "don't have the personal touch or accessibility" of this one.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2006, review of You're Not You, p. 324.
Library Journal, April 1, 2006, Robin Nesbitt, review of You're Not You, p. 88.
Publishers Weekly, February 20, 2006, review of You're Not You, p. 130.
Quest, March 1, 2007, review of You're Not You, p. 66.
Bookslut,http://www.bookslut.com/ (January 28, 2008), Krista Walton, review of You're Not You.
KGB Bar,http://www.kgbbar.com/ (January 28, 2008), Shari Goldhagen, review of You're Not You.
Michelle Wildgen Home Page,http://www.michellewildgen.com (January 28, 2008), author biography.
PopMatters,http://www.popmatters.com/ (July 26, 2006), Erin Frauenhofer, review of You're Not You.
Time Out New York,http://www.timeout.com/newyork/ (November 23, 2006), Kelly McMasters, review of Food and Booze: A Tin House Literary Feast.
Urban Muse,http://theurbanmuse.blogspot.com/ (November 28, 2007), Susan Johnston, author interview.
Wisconsin Book Festival Web site,http://www.wisconsinbookfestival.com/ (January 28, 2008), author profile.