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Once I Was Cool: Personal Essays Paperback – May 20, 2014


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Curbside Splendor Publishing (May 20, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 194043002X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1940430027
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #144,423 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"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 you—lucky 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.

More About the Author

Megan Stielstra's story collection, Everyone Remain Calm, was a Chicago Tribune Favorite of 2011, and her essay collection, Once I Was Cool, is forthcoming May 2014. Her work has appeared in The Best American Essays 2013, The Rumpus, PANK, Other Voices, and elsewhere. She is the Literary Director of the critically-acclaimed 2nd Story storytelling series and has told stories for all sorts of theaters, festivals, and bars including the Goodman, Steppenwolf, the Neo-Futurarium, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and regularly for The Paper Machete live news magazine at The Green Mill. She teaches creative writing at Columbia College and Northwestern University.

Online: www.meganstielstra.com and @meganstielstra

Customer Reviews

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They are also really damn funny.
Clinton Popetz
It's written with a great sense of voice and an urgency, like the author is in the room telling you a story.
J. Peepas
The attention to the story function of the essay is wonderful and the writing is tight, clean, and moving.
D. S. Atkinson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Victor David Giron on May 8, 2014
Format: Paperback
What I love about this essay collection by one of Chicago's golden lights in literature, story-teller and teacher Megan Stielstra, is that it inspires without being, you know, cheesy. Through her essays you learn Megan has had a fairly normal upbringing, parents that nurtured and helped her grow an interest in reading and writing, had the opportunities to travel and attend schools, met an amazing partner and lived in an area of Chicago she dreamed of as a late teenager, across from the musical cavern that is the Aragon Ballroom. Yes, she clearly faces obstacles in life, and we see her deal with these struggles such as becoming a parent, losing her condo's mortgage, juggling many different writing jobs to pay the bills, dealing with aging and becoming ‘un-cool’. But the driving force behind these essays is OPTIMISM. You literally leave this collection inspired, hopeful, feeling better about yourself and ready to get to work. Thank you Megan!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. S. Atkinson on May 21, 2014
Format: Paperback
I'm not always a big fan of essays, but I'm definitely a big fan of these essays. The attention to the story function of the essay is wonderful and the writing is tight, clean, and moving. Each calls up something from my past as I read what happened in Stielstra's life and somehow something is moved forward by the end of each, even if just a small amount. Stielstra is definitely cool.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Clinton Popetz on May 10, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Every essay reads with a strong voice, an urgent need to communicate something important. The crafting of the essays is lovely but it doesn't substitute for their content, as too often occurs. The pacing is breathless but not rushed...she's not tripping over herself to tell you what she needs to tell you, but just barely, so that the effort of this restraint is palpable and leads to a real sense, as a reader, of needing to listen. They are also really damn funny.
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In the interest of honesty, Megan and I are colleagues and friends -- though, if we were strangers, I'd still tell you this woman has writing chops. The essays in Once I Was Cool can be a deceptively quick read. They pull you in. They're funny, disarmingly frank, and then, damn it, you have to rethink that assumption you've carried around in your grumpy heart, because she's slipped a point in there and, try as you might, you can't ignore it. One essay, for instance, will cut my road rage use of the Chicago wave (some of you call this "flippin' the bird") by about half, maybe more, as I try to be kinder -- because of Megan's ink. I see myself rereading this book seasonally as a spiritual practice, because, as Kafka tells us, "A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us," and Once I Was Cool fills that desperate ache.
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