In fourteen linked essays, If You Knew Then What I Know Now reinvents the memoir with all-encompassing empathy—for bully and bullied alike. A father pitches baseballs at his hapless son, and a grandmother watches with silent forbearance as the same slim, quiet boy sets the table dressed in a blue satin dress. Another essay explores origins of the word “faggot,” and its etymological connection to “flaming queen.” This deft collection maps the unremarkable landscapes of childhood with compassion and precision, allowing awkwardness its own beauty.
Ryan Van Meter holds an MA in creative writing from DePaul University and an MFA in nonfiction writing from The University of Iowa. His essays have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Gulf Coast, and Fourth Genre, among others, and been selected for anthologies including Best American Essays 2009. In the summer of 2009, he was awarded a residency at the MacDowell Colony. He currently lives in California where he is an assistant professor of creative nonfiction at The University of San Francisco.
“Ryan Van Meter’s is both a charming and wounding intelligence. To read a book this observant, this fiercely honest, and this effortlessly beautiful is to feel the very pulse of contemporary American essays.”
For more info: ryanvanmeter.net
Thursday , April 28th, 7 pm