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Deb Olin Unferth Books In Order

Publication Order of Books

Vacation (2008) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Barn 8 (2020) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Collections

The Small Box of Short Stories (2007) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Wait Till You See Me Dance (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Graphic Novels

I, Parrot (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Revolution (2011) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Deb Olin Unferth
Deb Olin Unferth is a novelist, short story writer, and memoirist. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, McSweeney’s, The Boston Review, Granta, The Believer, Esquire, as well as other magazines. Deb teaches creative writing at Wesleyan University.

While doing her undergrad work, she never once thought about writing fiction. She just took a required English class, zero writing classes. She studied philosophy, and it felt huge, as though there was a ton of space to move around in. She did not get bored once and spent as little time as possible on any other subject.

Later, she figured out this was a horrible approach to take, and she missed out on a bunch. Since, she has attempted to teach herself other subjects, and has done, at best, a patchy job of things.

After Deb graduated, she moved to Chicago and took some grad classes at the University of Chicago. She was extremely bored. She believed that she was literally suffocating in her classes. She could not breathe in these classes. It nearly killed her to be taking philosophy classes. When she started to write finally creatively when she was twenty-five, she knew was influencing all the stories she wrote.

An eighteen year old Deb dropped out of college and headed off to war-torn Central America. After she camped out in a brothel and hung out with some Sandinistas, she realized that there was not any use for an unskilled American in Latin American civil wars. So she returned to America to wow readers with insightful and witty prose, as well as to munch on food from McDonald’s.

After publishing two books, she decided to write about her experience in Latin America. Deb attempted to figure out just how to write about her time there for a long time. It went through many different forms. From a thinly-disguised autobiographical novel to a spy thriller set during the eighties in Central America, which was something of a disaster, to just a series of stories to some essays. Things never worked out right, and eventually she gave up.

She was told by many people to just write a memoir on the subject. Finally she tried it, after a while. By that point in time, she already had compiled a ton of writing on the trip from her previous efforts. Plus there were her journals that she kept during her time there. It was a matter of organizing, gathering, and figuring out the tone and shape of things.

As a writer, she often hates working on novels until very late in the game, having to coax herself into it and tell herself once she has finished this novel, she never has to write another.

Unferth is an associate professor at The University of Texas at Austin in creative writing, teaching for the New Writers Project and the Michener Center.

Deb has received two Pushcart Prizes, one of which was for “Likeable”. “Revolution”, her memoir, was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award in the year 2012. she has received a Cabell First Novelist Award for “Vacation” and a Creative Capital Grant from the Warhol Foundation.

“Vacation” is the first stand alone novel and was released in the year 2008. The novel features three characters: a man and his wife and one stranger that has ties to each of them. His wife is suspiciously missing during the evenings and the man, named Myers, follows his nameless spouse during her evening escapades.

He soon realizes that she follows Gray, the stranger and a former classmate of Myers, whose marriage has crumbled.

This is an ultimately enjoyable yet strange novel. Unferth’s characters are strange and in strange situations, yet they are somehow relatable. This is a rather engaging read that gives you a new lens to view yourself through. Unferth writes in such a way that is truly something to behold. Deb writes delightful prose and some rather playful inventiveness, with some deadpan humor and some skewed wordplay, this is a mystery of heartbreak and hope.

“I, Parrot” is a graphic novel and was released in the year 2017. This is the story of a mom, her son, and her forty-two parrots, and the fierce search for a freer world and redemption.

Daphne loses custody of her child and she is willing to do whatever she has to in order to get him back. Even if she has to enlist the aid of the wayward love her life, a flock of passenger pigeons, three house painters, a super-sized bag of mite-killing powder, a landlady from hell, and a ton more parrots than she knows what to do with.

Deb’s language is bitterly funny and sly, matched in its mood by the monochromatic, inkwash style art, which is able to play up the story’s whimsy and sadness. Readers felt captivated through this rather insightful story. There was so much tension, readers had a tough time putting it down for very long.

“Barn 8” is the second stand alone novel and was released in the year 2020. Two auditors for the US egg industry, after going rogue, concoct a plan to steal a million chickens in the middle of the night, what amounts to an entire egg farm’s worth of animals. Cleveland and Janey, officious head of audits and a spirited ex-runaway,make for a quarrelsome and precarious team and descend on this farm on a dark evening in spring. A series of catastrophes follows.

The novel takes the reader into the minds of the renegades. There is a former director of undercover investigations, a farmer’s daughter, a forest ranger that comes upon forty thousand hens suddenly, many activists, and one security guard that is left on an empty farm for many years.

There are also glimpses twenty thousand years into the future in order to see what chickens could evolve into on our contaminated planet. Readers also hear what hens believe happens when they die.

The book is a wildly inventive yet totally plausible read. It is philosophical, whimsical, heartbreaking, and funny.

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