Cocktails & Convos with Mary Helen Stefaniak

Date: Fri, Oct 6           Time: 7 PM          Location: Dog-Eared Books

Fans of short essay collections and writers of creative nonfiction will love this joyful book, The Six-Minute Memoir, and a night of conversation with its author, Mary Helen Stefaniak. Tickets include both the book and the night with the author. Want to bring a family member but don’t need an extra copy of the book in your home? Add a guest ticket for $10. We’ll also have themed cocktails available for purchase at the event. 

About the Book: This collection of short essays delivers more joy than many books twice its size. Culled from two decades’ worth of Mary Helen Stefaniak’s “Alive and Well” column in the Iowa Source, each essay invites readers into the ordinary life of a woman “with a family and friends and a job . . . and a series of cats and a history living in one old house after another at the turn of the twenty-first century in the middle of the Middle West.” One great aunt presides over nineteen acres of pecan grove profitably strewn with junk. A borrowed hammer rings with the sound of immortality. Famous poets pipe up where you least expect them. Living and dying are found to be two sides of the same remarkable coin.

What’s more, writing prompts at the end of the book invite readers to search their own lives for such moments—the kind that could be forgotten but instead are turned, by the gift of perspective and perfectly chosen detail, into treasure. The Six-Minute Memoir encourages people to tell their own stories even if they think they don’t have the kind of story that belongs in a memoir.

A native of Milwaukee, Mary Helen now divides her time between Iowa City, where she and her husband John live in a 165-year-old stagecoach inn they restored, and Omaha, where she is Professor Emerita of English and Creative Writing at Creighton University.

Mary Helen is the author of Self-Storage and Other Stories and three novels: The Turk and My MotherThe Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia; and The World of PondsideHer work has appeared in many publications, including The Iowa Review, EPOCH, The Yale Review, AGNI, and The Antioch Review, and in several anthologies, including New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best 2000 & 2006 (Algonquin Books) and A Different Plain (University of Nebraska Press). She has also served as a commentator on Iowa Public Radio, a columnist for The Iowa Source, a contributing editor for The Iowa Review, and a professor of creative writing in the International Summer School at Renmin University in Beijing.  She teaches in the M.F.A. program in writing at Pacific University in Oregon.