Synopses & Reviews
Praise for Megan Stielstra's Everyone Remain Calm:
"Stielstra—collector, curator, and facilitator of so many stories—also writes beautifully and kinetically. Her work possesses a rare aural quality, no doubt the result of so much time on stage, or even in front of a classroom."Time Out Chicago
"The recent work of writer Megan Stielstra is an emblematic example of the hybridity that characterizes new short work infused with online elements. . . . In the collection's captivating short story 'I Am the Keymaster,' Stielstra's protagonist uses a distinctly digital mechanism—Craigslist—to approach a thoroughly corporeal problem—a need to secure affordable birth-control pills."—Toronto Review of Books
With storytelling chops honed over a decade of performances at Chicago's 2nd Story storytelling series, these insightful, compassionate, gutsy, and heartbreaking personal essays explore the messy, maddening beauty of adulthood with wit, intelligence, and biting humor, tackling topics ranging from beating postpartum depression through stalking to a surprising run-in with an old lover at the symphony while on ecstasy.
Megan Stielstra is the author of Everyone Remain Calm and the literary director of the 2nd Story storytelling series. She's told stories for all sorts of theaters, festivals, and bars, including The Goodman, The Steppenwolf, and The Museum of Contemporary Art. Her writing has appeared in Best American Essays, the Rumpus, the Nervous Breakdown, and elsewhere. She teaches creative writing at Columbia College Chicago.
"In Once I Was Cool,
Megan Stielstra is warm and open and wise. Whether shes writing about the complex loneliness of early motherhood or failing to rise to the occasion or find the right language while living abroad, Stielstra is a masterful essayist. From the first page tot he last, she demonstrates a graceful understanding of the power of storytelling. What shes truly offering with her words, is the grandest of gifts."
Roxane Gay, author of An Untamed State
"Holy shit. I read this book in two and a half hours. Then I started reading it again."
Jamie Iredell, author of I Was A Fat Drunk Catholic School Insomniac
"What an amazing cri de coeur Once I Was Cool is. Megan Stielstra tells us in a witty, sympathetic, confident voice who she is and what and whom she cares about most. Reading these essays, I laughed out loud and also found myself on the verge of tears so many times. This book should be read by anyone who's been in love, had a child or thought about having a child. So, probably, that's everyone."
Christine Sneed, author of Little Known Facts
"Megan Stielstra's wonderful writing and her storytelling bravery is truly a gift for everyone who reads her. Once I Was Cool is refreshing, hilarious, touching, and wise. If she keeps writing like this, I'm going to bet she'll always be cool."
Kevin Sampsell, author of This Is Between Us
Megan Stielstras voice is so palpable, so immediate and vibrantly alive, it feels as though shes standing right in front of you, sashaying her hips a little and maybe occasionally breaking into song, making you laugh so hard you dont quite notice when you start to cry. A trickster constantly unpacking and upending what is meant by fiction, truth and storytelling, Stielstra has ultimately created a charming style wholly her own.”
Gina Frangello, author of A Life in Men
Insightful, compassionate, gutsy, and heartbreaking personal essays exploring the messy, maddening beauty of adulthood with wit, intelligence, and biting humor.
In these insightful, compassionate, gutsy, and heartbreaking personal essays, Stielstra, whose essay Channel B” was recently featured in Best American Essays 2013
edited by Cheryl Strayed, explores the messy, maddening beauty of adulthood with wit, intelligence, and biting humor.
The essays in Once I Was Cool tackle topics ranging from beating postpartum depression by stalking her neighbor, to a surprise run-in with an old lover while on ecstasy, to blowing her mortgage on a condo she bought because of Jane's Addiction. Or, said another way, they tackle life in all of its quotidian richness.
About the Author
Megan Stielstra is the author of Everyone Remain Calm and the Literary Director of the 2nd Story storytelling series. Shes told stories for all sorts of theaters, festivals, and bars including The Goodman, The Steppenwolf, and The Museum of Contemporary Art. Her writing has appeared in Best American Essays 2013, The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, and elsewhere. She teaches creative writing at Columbia College Chicago.