Debra Monroe is the author of four books of fiction, and one memoir.
Her first book, The Source of Trouble, published in 1990, won the prestigious Flannery O'Connor Award for Fiction, and was acclaimed as a "fierce debut" that presents "ever-hopeful lost souls with engaging humor and sympathy" (Kirkus Reviews). Her second book of stories, A Wild, Cold State, published in 1995, was described by The Boston Globe as "fine and funky, marbled with warmth and romantic confusion, but not a hint of sentimentality." When her first novel, Newfangled, was published in 1998, the Washington Post called it "rangy, thoughtful, ambitious, and widely, wildly knowledgeable, teasing out the tension between pop culture and private life." Her second novel, Shambles, published in 2004, was praised by the Texas Observer for "the depth as well as the heartbreaking particularity of the hellholes—real and imagined—that make Shambles a novel of graceful ease and substance." On the Outskirts of Normal: Forging a Family Against the Grain, was originally published by SMU Press in June 2010, to national acclaim.
author photo by Suzanne Reiss
Learn more about Debra at her author site, debramonroe.net.
In a landscape dominated by refinery smoke and rumors, Delia Arco spends her workdays counseling teenagers as outcast as she once was, and her nights caring for the baby daughter she loves fiercely. Searching furiously for the mother in herself, she struggles to understand her own mother’s seedy life and puzzling disappearance. When an intern whose life story is the stuff of true-crime books insinuates herself into Delia’s life, Delia wonders who to let in and who to keep out, who to help and who to let slide. Then one night her world cracks open.
In this haunting, suspenseful novel, Debra Monroe asks: What happens when a family seems to blow apart? How can survivors ride out the grisly aftermath once an essential piece of happiness has been removed?
Praise for Shambles:
“Delia Arco is the sort of woman you welcome into your life—sister, neighbor, mentor, force of nature—because she embodies a contemporary version of the American Dream: tolerance, compassion, humor, and forgiveness. This book might move mountains.”
—Antonya Nelson, author of Bound
“Prose that shimmers like a jazz solo. This is big-time storytelling, full of sass and danger.”
—Jonis Agee, author of The River Wife
“Debra Monroe writes about people who live on the fringes of society with so much compassion and in so much detail, she leaves us wondering who draws those lines in the first place. Her prose is like fireworks, bright, layered, and surprising. A smart, funny, wry, and winning book.”
—Pam Houston, author of Cowboys Are My Weakness
“Reading Monroe is like reading Chekhov—you understand that when the story’s over, you’ll be changed. In luminous and passionate prose, Monroe tells the story of Delia Arco’s struggle to build a family and find a place in a strange new world. Irresistible…Monroe at her edgiest and wisest.”
—John Dufresne, author of Requiem, Mass.