"In Once I Was Cool, Megan Stielstra is warm and open and wise. Whether she’s 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 to the last, she demonstrates a graceful understanding of the power of storytelling. What she’s 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
Praise for Everyone Remain Calm:
"Here’s the thing about Megan Stielstra: she has a profound understanding of where we all go in our minds, and the unique ability to turn it into a story that sounds like your new best friend is telling it to you. You know, the kind where you’re going Oh my god that totally happened to me” or It’s like you see inside my head” until she gets to the part where there’s suddenly a marching band following her down the street or she’s sleeping with the Incredible Hulk or having a three-way which is the part where you go Okay that didn’t happen to me but damn, why does it still seem like it did?” Megan Stielstra brings it to the party and rocks it.
Elizabeth Crane, We Only Know So Much
"Everyone Remain Calm is a rarity: a bold, imaginative, and cunning collection of stories. Spanning a wide variety of styles, forms, and tones, the language here is unapologetically inventive and often humorous, while the sentiments are deeply heartfelt. Ms. Stielstra’s inimitable voice is a fiercely unique creation.
Joe Meno, The Great Perhaps and Hairstyles of the Damned
Megan Stielstra’s voice is so palpable, so immediate and vibrantly alive, it feels as though she’s standing right in front of you, sashaying her hips a little and maybe occasionally breaking into song, making you laugh so hard you don’t 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, A Life in Men and Slut Lullabies
"When you read Megan Stielstra’s stories, you’ll feel like the coolest, most interesting gal in the bar just pulled a seat up next to youlucky you. She tells tales of dangerous women, broken women, explosive women, real and magical women, all of whom you’ll have a hell of a good time getting to know as you watch them get ready to take flight.
Claire Zulkey, An Off Year
"This book gave me a boner."
Samantha Irby, author of Meaty, creator of Bitches Gotta Eat
About the Author
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 2013, The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, and elsewhere. She teaches creative writing at Columbia College Chicago.