Lee Montgomery is the author of The Things Between Us: A Memoir, winner of a 2007 Oregon Book Award, Searching for Emily, and Whose World Is This?, winner of the 2007 Iowa Short Fiction Award. She is currently the editorial director of Tin House Books and executive editor of Tin House magazine.
WOOF!: WRITERS ON DOGS (2008)
An anthology of original, literary essays by some of today’s most prominent writers, including Ann Beattie, Denis Johnson, JoAnne Beard, Ron Carlson, Mona Simpson, J.C. Hallman, Antonya Nelson and Jim Shepard, among others.
As the popularity of Marley & Me attests, people love their dogs—and everyone else's too. For all the time spent on grooming, petting, and other care—it's as if owning a dog is a religion unto itself. Woof! brings together original essays from acclaimed writers ruminating on the sometimes tumultuous, often selfless love affair between human and dog. Alternately poignant and hilarious, these collected stories of mutts and purebreds alike will win the hearts of the millions who?ve ever loved a member of the world?s most loyal species.
"Montgomery (The Things Between Us), a memoirist and executive editor of Tin House magazine, delivers personal essays from writers--including Barry Hannah, Victoria Redel and Denis Johnson (whose essay is written from the point of view of his curiously military-minded bullmastiff, The Colonel)--that capture "the soul essence of dogs" in a way that will touch the hearts of canine owners everywhere. From novelist Tom Grimes's description of his dog Charlie's "zigzagging, semi-Homeric" outings to Lydia Millet's paean to her pug Bug, "a confounding and holy monster," each author presents a memorable dog each possessing much devotion and baffling eccentricity. Other than Millet and Yannick Murphy ("The Sea of Trees")--who presents an ode to Tom, his huge, slobbering and totally good-natured Newfoundland--almost all of the essayists prominently feature descriptions of their dogs' deaths, each of which is affecting but read together can be a profoundly sad experience for those with dogs. This fine collection works best if readers give themselves adequate time for reflection--and sometimes a good cry--between each essay."—Publishers Weekly
Rights: Viking/Penguin, World English
WHOSE WORLD IS THIS? (2007)
Winner of the 2007 Iowa Prize for Short Fiction.
Montgomery's characters abuse drugs and boys, advise friends who are dying of AIDS about pennies in penny loafers, write letters to Caroline Kennedy, and fall in love with movie stars. Some lose themselves to ambivalence while contemplating motherhood; others find themselves soothed when, after hearing of the sudden death of a dear friend they seduce a stranger.
In the story "We Americans," a woman abandoned by her husband grows so vulnerable, she internalizes TV news tragedies by developing hives in the shapes of foreign countries. In the title story, Hannah, a speed freak working the graveyard shift in a nursing home, falls in love with a quadriplegic who void of feelings in his limbs, feel things she cannot. In "Avalanche", an editor to movie stars in Beverly Hills struggles with how to reconcile her own story with the fairy-tale endings of celebrity culture.
Tender, poignant, and at times hilarious, the women in Whose World Is This? turn common notions of love, compassion, and tradition upside down as they show us how vulnerability, although dangerous, is what makes life astonishingly beautiful and reality strangely unreal.
"Montgomery is a realist with a talent for stringing together perfectly captured moments such as this, evoking Lori Moore or Antonya Nelson with a skillful balance of the beautiful and the grotesque, graced with glints of humor. Though her morose introspection can overwhelm, Montgomery more than makes up for a lack of cheer or action through her characters' lived-in authenticity. A quick, inspired read, this collection bodes well for Montgomery's future in fiction."—Publishers Weekly
"Montgomery's women characters—quirky, resilient, and memorable—float through life separated from men, possessions, families, or fear, caught on the page at unexpected moments of freedom or release... Infused with smart takes on American pop culture, this compact collection of short stories is densely lyrical and often funny. The opening epigraph, from Emily Post, does, indeed, offer a key to Montgomery's characters: "It's only the unknown that shakes your poise.""—Booklist
Rights: University of Iowa Press, World
THE THINGS BETWEEN US (2006)
A moving, bitingly funny chronicle of a New England family on the brink, this is the personal story of three adult children, fractured by their mother’s alcoholism, returning to their childhood home to help their father in a medical emergency. There they find themselves faced with the family dynamic: Their mother is drunk (again), and their father, the rock of the family, is doing the impossible: Dying. The memoir explores the complexities of alcoholism, family relationships, and how from the depths of sadness that surrounds dying, the resilience of the human spirit is found through forgiveness, humor, and love.
"Of the demons afflicting the well-heeled Montgomery family, the most obvious is cancer, ravaging the body of the author's beloved father. Equally insidious is alcohol: even at age seventy-eight [Montgomery's mother] begins the day with a cocktail. But the evil the author seems most interested in exorcising in this wrenching, unsentimental memoir is denial, the organizing principal of the family's life.... Montgomery's portrait of modern death is harrowing, but it's uplifting, too."—People
"A stunning addition to the literature of drunken mothers. Montgomery has a lovely, straightforward, trustworthy style. You like her utter lack of self-pity. You appreciate the absence of bitterness and judgment. There's no pretense of offering some grand lesson, other than love: Love as best as you can for as long as you can. That's all."—Los Angeles Times
"What Montgomery does, uncannily well, is to catch how normal an alcoholic family feels when you're in the midst of it. Montgomery has wrung an engrossing book from her eccentric (at best) childhood and the journey of reconnection she and her brother and sister take in the wake of their father's terminal diagnosis....Montgomery's greatest gift is to be able to describe her family clearly and unsentimentally but without cruelty. That's what allows us to laugh with the Montgomerys but certainly not to laugh at them. They're much too compelling for that." —O, The Oprah Magazine
"Most families have a black sheep. Montgomery's had a black hole -- her mother, a frustrated performer and prodigious drunk. So imagine Montgomery's surprise when she is called home to mount a death watch -- not for her Mumzy, but for her tight-lipped father, always something of a cipher for his children. Her memoir of a belatedly dutiful daughter, harrowing and inevitably heartbreaking, also manages to be scathingly funny." —The Boston Globe
Rights: Free Press, North American