NYS WRITERS INSTITUTE
NYS Writers Institute, October 28, 1999
4:00 p.m. Seminar | Humanities 354
8:00 p.m. Reading | Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center
Melissa Bank is the author of the best selling first-time short fiction collection, The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing (Viking, 1999, ISBN 0-670-88300-X). The collection, which takes the form of interconnected short stories, explores the life lessons of Jane Rosenal, the contemporary American Everywoman. As she works her way from defiant teenager to reluctant career girl, to a more mature, persistently hopeful young woman, Jane maneuvers her way through love, sex, relationships, and the occasional perils of the workplace. We first meet wisecracking and vulnerable Jane at age 14, as she attempts to decipher what went wrong between her older brother and his girlfriend. In subsequent chapters we follow her struggle towards maturity, as she tests the limits of her understanding and doubts her perceptions as she gets an entry-level job in book publishing; battles with an overbearing editor; begins an affair with an editor who is 28 years her senior; and struggles with the death of her father. In the wickedly funny conclusion, Jane suppresses her instincts and blindly follows the advice offered in a best-selling book, "How to Meet and Marry Mr. Right" in an attempt to land her ideal mate.
Melissa Bank was the winner of the 1993 Nelson Algren Award for short fiction. She has published stories in Zoetrope, The Chicago Tribune, The North American Review, Other Voices, and Ascent. Her work has been heard on "Selected Shorts" on National Public Radio. She is at work on a novel as well as a screenplay for The Girls' Guide. Bank holds an MFA from Cornell University, and lives in New York City.
"This is one of those rare occasions when a highly touted book fulfills the excitement surrounding its acquisition. . .Reading her debut collection of seven tightly interlinked stories featuring heroine Jane Rosenal, one marvels on Bank's assured control of her material, her witty, distinctive voice and her ability to find comedy, pathos, and drama in ordinary lives without resorting to the twin crutches of dysfunctional families and sexual abuse that seem to prop up much current fiction. . . .By the time readers reach the final, title story, they'll be so firmly attached to self-doubting Jane that they'll track her misguided seduction of Mr. Right with drawn breath. "Beautiful and funny and sad and true" (to quote Jane), this book is phenomenally good." - Publishers Weekly, boxed and starred
"[a] truly poignant novel. . . There is an exquisite honesty to Jane's relationships; she suffers plenty, but her stories serve as a testament to the value of not living one's life with emotional thriftiness." - Time
Bank's first collection has a beautiful, true arc, and all the sophistication and control her heroine could ever desire." - Kerry Fried, Amazon.com
For additional information, contact the Writers Institute
at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.