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About Amy Benson
Amy Benson is the author of The Sparkling-Eyed Boy (Houghton Mifflin 2004), winner of the Bakeless Prize in creative nonfiction, sponsored by Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and Seven Years to Zero (Dzanc Books 2017), winner of the Dzanc Books Nonfiction Prize. Recent work has appeared in journals such as Agni, BOMB, Boston Review, Denver Quarterly, Gettysburg Review, Kenyon Review, PANK, and Triquarterly. She has taught creative writing at Columbia University and Fordham University and joined the writing faculty at Rhodes College in Memphis in the fall of 2016. She was a fellow at Bread Loaf and a resident at Ledig House International, and is the co-founder of the First Person Plural Reading Series in Harlem.
These are just a few of the modern art landscapes, real and imaged, in Amy Benson’s Seven Years to Zero, a collection of linked vignettes that blurs the line between fiction and memoir. In a narrative divided into seven years, the collection traces on couple’s move from the suburbs to the metropolis, and their struggle with the decision of having a child in a world of factories, earthquakes, pollution, extinction, nuclear fallout and uncertain future. Through the lens of one couple, one city, and one child, Benson explores how art shapes awareness, and how awareness shapes our understanding of our place in a changing world.
Exploring the fault lines of adult nostalgia and desire, this work of creative nonfiction—a Bakeless Prize winner—re-creates the achingly intense adolescent summer days that Amy Benson and the sparkling-eyed boy spent together on the shores of the remote St. Mary’s River of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
For her, summers meant returning from her home in Detroit to a three-month idyll on much-loved family land, owned for generations, and to a heady culture of local boys. For him, this land is the place he was born, where he’ll later find work, marry, and stay. In the span of a lifetime their encounters were relatively brief, but loaded with meaning. Here, her heart-stoppingly erotic—yet wholly imagined—scenes, her imaginings of different outcomes, and her searching riffs on love as possession, love as pain, read like a friend’s deepest secrets, shared.
“Full of color and light and life. This is truth of the most profound sort; truth revealed in the artful and lyrical sensibility of Benson’s words and memory . . . Benson shows us here what the memoir can and should do—destroy and resurrect itself over and over.” —Brad Land, author of Goat
“The great pleasure and triumph of this memoir is Amy Benson’s ability to make the familiar new again as she explores the country of first love. Over and over I found myself surprised by the unexpected twists and turns, peaks and abysses, of her journey. And also by her lovely, fiercely intelligent prose.” —Margot Livesey, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy
“A remarkably candid disclosure of what it feels like to be young and in love for the first time. Winner of a prize for creative nonfiction from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, this is a provocative, intense read.” —Booklist