|I was born in Detroit at the dawn of the much-lamented fifties and raised in the glaringly white suburbs of that city, where I learned more than I realized about family, race, nature, education, books, and the perilous path of girlhood. Apart from all the authors I loved, the most powerful influence on my life was the Beatles, whose advent coincided with my adolescence. In fact, Motown and rock music probably saved my life. I finished high school in Ann Arbor in that explosive, magical year, 1968-perfect timing, I'd say-and went on to college and graduate school, never venturing far from the realm of literature where I felt deeply at home.
I came to Kalamazoo College in 1977, ink on the Ph.D. hardly dry, reeling from encounters with patriarchy that I couldn't yet put into words. But that didn't last long. I taught at Kalamazoo for 35 years - courses in women's literature, 19th-century British literature, autobiography, nonfiction writing, and a whole array of things I wasn't trained to teach-and it's there that I came to define myself ever more explicitly as a writer. Somehow my imagination is grounded in the landscape of Michigan-the lakes (Great and not-so-great), the forests, the radical changes of season, the people who can smell pretension a mile off.
I'm one of those people, steeped in the fabled Midwestern Niceness but agitated by a streak of rebelliousness crossed with irreverence. I'm a dog person who has only had cats; a former Republican child who now worries that if she moves any further to the left she'll fall of the edge of the earth; a person who takes everything very seriously but would almost rather laugh than have sex (depends on the sex); and a mature, intellectual feminist with a Johnny Depp jones that will not turn me loose. Do I contradict myself? As the song says: Oh my, do I.