Faculty News: Christine Sneed’s Debut Novel

In Faculty News, congratulations to Prof. Christine Sneed. This week marked the release of Sneed’s debut novel, Little Known Facts. From the official press release:

sneed_little_known_factsThe people who orbit around Renn Ivins, an actor of Harrison Ford-like stature—his girlfriends, his children, his ex-wives, his colleagues in the film industry—long to experience the glow of his flame. Anna and Will are Renn’s grown children, struggling to be authentic versions of themselves in a world where they are seen as less-important extensions of their father. They are both drawn to and repelled by the man who overshadows every part of them.

From Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist Christine Sneed comes the debut novel LITTLE KNOWN FACTS (Bloomsbury / February 12, 2013 / $25, hardcover), which peels back the layers of fame, family, and identity surrounding a charismatic Hollywood star. With each chapter from the point of view a different person caught in Renn’s web of celebrity, Sneed shows us the man in full and the effects of fame on the people to whom he is closest. Will, in his late twenties, is unmoored, has never had a real job. Anna is an earnest and hardworking medical intern who eventually falls for a married man of her father’s age. The first Mrs. Ivins can’t seem to keep a relationship going in the years since her marriage fell apart because no man can stand in Renn’s shadow. The second Mrs. Ivins has just published an expose titled This Isn’t Gold. Most of us can imagine the perks of celebrity, but Little Known Facts offers a clear-eyed story of its effects—the fallout of fame and fortune on family members and others who can neither fully embrace nor ignore the superstar in their midst.

With Little Known Facts Christine Sneed emerges as one of the most insightful chroniclers of our celebrity-obsessed age, telling a story of influence and affluence, of forging identity and happiness and a moral compass.

Little Known Facts is juicy enough to appeal to our prurience but smart enough not to make us feel dirty afterward…Sneed is such a gifted writer…Her depiction of both proximity to  celebrity and celebrity itself had me totally convinced.” – Curtis Sittenfled, New York Times Book Review (cover)

“An entertaining, formally inventive read …the world that Sneed creates in Little Known Facts — a blend of truth and fiction that weaves real life actors and directors into Renn’s everyday life — makes for a clever take and a fun read.” – Los Angeles Times

 “Sneed follows her award-winning short story collection, Portraits of a Few of the People I’ve Made Cry, with an ensnaring first novel that delves into the complex challenges and anguish of living with and in the shadow of celebrity. Sneed’s wit, curiosity, empathy, and ability to divine the perfect detail propel this psychologically exquisite, superbly realized novel of intriguing, caricature-transcending characters and predicaments…As Sneed illuminates each facet of her percussively choreographed plot via delectably slant disclosures––overheard conversations, snooping, tabloids, confessions under duress, and journal entries, among them—she spotlights ‘little known facts’ about the cost of fame, our erotic obsession with movie-star power, and where joy can be found.” – Booklist, starred review

Book reviews and Q&A’s with Sneed have been popping up everywhere from the Tin House blog to Time Out Chicago. You can read them all at www.christinesneed.com.

Women and Children First bookstore, located at 5233 N. Clark Street, will be hosting a release party for Little Known Facts tonight, Thursday February 21st, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Sneed will also be reading from Little Known Facts on DePaul’s campus on Wednesday, March 13th as a part of the DePaul Humanities Center’s New Voices in the Humanities series. Join her at 5:30 p.m. in the DePaul Student Center room 314 for a reception; the reading begins at 6:00 p.m. More information and a flyer to come!

Spotlight on: Christine Sneed

If you’ve been diligently reading the faculty news bits in Ex Libris this quarter, you’ve probably noticed Christine Sneed’s name come up more than once. Which is why when we rPortraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cryeceived yet another exciting piece of news about her award-winning first book, we decided it was high time to turn the Ex Libris spotlight on our very own Prof. Christine Sneed.

Ploughshares has just announced Christine Sneed as the winner of the twenty-first annual John C. Zacharis First Book Award for her first book, a collection of short stories entitled Portraits of a Fewof the People I’ve Made Cry. The $1,500 award, which is named after Emerson College’s former president, honors the best debut book by a Ploughshares writer, alternating annually between poetry and fiction. From Zacharis Award judge Ladette Randolph:

“Sneed’s Portraits of a Few of the People I’ve Made Cry is a sophisticated collection. Linked by a common theme of male-female relationships—often sexual, always unbalanced—the stories are mature, beautiful, and devastating testaments to the ways we betray ourselves and each other. No word is out of place, no detail unnecessary. There isn’t a story here that isn’t a gem.”

But you don’t just have to take Ploughshares‘ word for it. In 2009 Portraits was awarded the Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction from the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) Awards Series. It also received a starred review in Publishers Weekly, was long-listed for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the “first fiction” category, and was named one of the “Seven best books of 2010” by Time Out Chicago book editor Jonathan Messinger.

Another story of Sneed’s,  “The First Wife,” was chosen for the 2012 PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories anthology, set for publication in April 2012. The story was originally published in the Winter 2011 issue of New England Review.

What’s next for Christine Sneed? Well for one, she will be teaching Eng 492: “Writing Fiction” at DePaul during the Winter quarter. But in even more exciting news, Bloomsbury Press recently acquired her novel-in-stories, Little Known Facts, which tells the story of a Hollywood actor and his family. Publication is set for Spring of 2013.

You can learn more about Christine Sneed at christinesneed.com, and if you see her around the English Department, make sure to congratulate her on her many awards and achievements!