I was born and raised in Pennsylvania, graduated from Pomona College, in Claremont, California, and went on to earn a doctorate in English at the University of Washington. I taught at Michigan State University and from 2008 to 2011 edited Fourth Genre, one of the premiere literary journals featuring personal essays and memoirs. At MSU I received the Excellence in Teaching Award, sponsored by the Amoco Foundation, and the MSU Alumni Club of Mid-Michigan’s Quality in Undergraduate Teaching Award.  In 2010 I was named Distinguished Professor of the Year by the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan.

My free memoir Girl Rearing (W.W. Norton) was selected in the Barnes and Noble Discover New Writers Series and subsequently cited among Notable Twentieth Century American Literary Nonfiction in The Best American Essays of the Century (Houghton Mifflin), edited by Joyce Carol Oates. Several pieces from Girl Rearing were recognized as Notable Essays in the Best American Essays series, and “Hair” was published in that series, selected by Joseph Epstein. “Hair” has been included in the college edition of the best of the Best American Essays and in The Beacon Book of Essays by Contemporary American Women. It also appeared in Laughing Matters, edited by Marvin Diogenes, in a chapter called “Observations on Gender.”

Companion to an Untold Story was selected by Susan Orlean for the 2011 Associated Writing Programs Award in Nonfiction.