Nebraska Center for Writers

Chimney Rock What the Critics Say
About Michelle Herman


Copyright © 2005
by Michelle Herman
Macadam/Cage P
How to Buy

A brief, winsome novella about an English professor at a midwestern college who gets a dog instead of a life. — Kirkus Reviews

The Middle of Everything:
Memoirs of Motherhood
Copyright © 2005
by Michelle Herman
U of Nebraska P
How to Buy

When she was three months old, Michelle Herman's daughter, Grace, went on a hunger strike. At six, she suffered what can only be described, in the old-fashioned way, as a breakdown. And at the ripe old age of eight, she began a study of the nature of "true romance." Motherhood may come naturally, but it doesn't necessarily come easily — certainly not as easily as it seemed to this mother when she vowed to do a better job than her own mother had. But the real trouble started when Herman decided that "better" wasn't good enough: she would be the perfect mother.
A memoir from the front lines of motherhood by a longtime writer of fiction, The Middle of Everything weaves a daughter's memories of her Brooklyn childhood in the 1950s and 1960s, and the shadow cast on it by her own young mother's paralyzing depression, with a middle-aged woman's account of trying to break her mother's mold by meeting her own child's every need.
A story of love of all kinds, of work and friendship (especially best-friendship, its rewards and perils both), of the charms of other people's families, of the miseries and pleasures of aging, and of the twists of the ties that bind each generation to the next, Michelle Herman's book is an energetic, exhaustive, lacerating, unflinching, and often hilarious inside look at the very nature of motherhood. — from the publisher

Honest, brave, and humbling, Michelle Herman's account of striving to become the mother her child needs — one very different from the ideal she'd imagined — is the story of every woman dedicated to sparing her child the pain of her own youth. We want to believe that love doesn't make mistakes, but Michelle Herman knows the truth: like water, love assumes the shape of the vessel, always imperfect, that holds it. — Kathryn Harrison

The Middle of Everything is honest and ugly and funny and beautiful in places where one would not even hope for bearable. Fine writing and the sure, gifted voice of the storyteller prevail, even as this family does. — Amy Bloom

Copyright © 1991
by Michelle Herman
Ohio State UP
How to Buy

Alone in her Brooklyn apartment, where for decades she never had a moment to herself, Rivke Vasilevsky spends her days at the kitchen table, nursing a glass of hot water and lemon, listening for the telephone. And eighty-nine-year-old widow, Rivke feels she has nothing left to do but think about what has brought her to this juncture. — from the publisher

Short story writer Herman, who teaches creative writing at Ohio State, has taken a major chance with her first novel. ... Herman's ear is perfect; she employs exemplary narrative skills to ensure that the monotony and gloom of Rivke's life do not also infect the reader, and the result is a small triumph: the creation of a character, and a way of life, in all their poignant human complexity. There must be hundreds of women like Rivke who would be consoled by this deeply understanding study of old age. — Publishers Weekly

[A] strong woman's view of personal history that never resorts to contemporary feminist philosophizing; the readers' empathy will carry them through the work smoothly. — Library Journal

A New and Glorious Life
Copyright © 1998
by Michelle Herman
Carnegie-Mellon UP
How to Buy

The novella can be a difficult form, straddling the immediacy of the short story and the more luxurious pace of the novel, but Herman balances these needs with aplomb in this collection of three long stories. Filled with warm, eccentric characters, each novella explores the difficulties faced by an assortment of individuals intellectually rich but emotionally uncertain. ... Unwilling to rush her characters, Herman explores the full length of this friendship, slowly guiding the story toward a bright, charged conclusion. Herman ... rites with vivid details, but much of this book's distinctiveness derives from her sense of pace. She writes past the point where many writers stop, trusting her characters to deliver aspects of themselves previously undetected. — Publishers Weekly

Herman's strongest work occurs in the title novella, in which a composer and a poet discover true love at an artists' colony. —

redball.gif Bibliography
redball.gif Selection
redball.gif Buy a Book
redball.gif Michelle Herman's Page
redball.gif Author Web Site
redball.gif Writers On-Line

The Rock

Nebraska Center for Writers