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Curtis ?)- Sittenfeld (1976() Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights

prep review school novel

Born 1976, in Cincinnati, OH; mother an art history teacher. Education: Stanford University, B.A.; Iowa Writer's Workshop, M.F.A., 2001

Addresses

Agent—c/o Author Mail, Random House, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.

Career

Novelist. Writer-in-residence, St. Albans School, Washington, DC, 2002–03, English teacher, 2003–.

Honors Awards

Seventeen magazine fiction-writing contest, winner, 1992; winter, annual fiction contest, Mississippi Review, 1998; Michener-Copernicus Society of America Award.

Writings

Prep (novel), Random House (New York, NY), 2005.

Contributor to periodicals, including Fast Company, New York Times, Washington Post, Salon, and Real Simple.

Work in Progress

Two more novels, for Random House.

Sidelights

Adhering to the time-honored tradition "write what you know," Curtis Sittenfeld drew on her experiences attending a prestigious New England private school in penning her debut novel, Prep. Earning her college degree at Stanford University, Sittenfeld also earned an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writer's Workshop, and wrote for several well-known periodicals before publishing her novel. A New York Times bestselling novel, Prep was actually rejected by fourteen publishers prior to being picked up by Random House and released in 2005.

Prep focuses on life as it is lived at the prestigious Ault School in Boston, and the characters that inhabit the world of the private high school's so-called social elite. Main character Lee Fiora is a self-conscious young woman who, from her perspective as a college graduate, reflects back on her days at the school with and her emotional highs and lows. Among her experiences, Lee recalls her devastating crush on the handsome Cross Sugarman, her relationship with a geeky math tutor who proclaimed to love her, and her mortification at being known as the daughter of a Midwest mattress salesman amid a sea of Boston blue bloods and other upscale American pedigrees. Lee also remembers her best friend, a fellow outsider named Little, and her own careless comments to a journalist that, when published in the New York Times for all to read, caused her to become a campus "untouchable."

A Publishers Weekly critic commented that while Sittenfeld's novel "meanders on its way, light on plot," the book is nonetheless "saturated with heartbreaking humor and written in clean prose." In Booklist, Michael Cart praised the author for her "fine writing and assorted shrewd insights into both the psychology of adolescence." Rebecca Ascher-Walsh, reviewing Prep for Entertainment Weekly, characterized the novel's setting as "an elite Northeast boarding school filled with lacrosse-playing WASPs," and added that the novel "nails the twisted narcissism and loneliness that go with the territory." "Prep's characters, in their depth and humanity," wrote Patricia Bang in School Library Journal, "will appeal to readers, who will find themselves rooting for Lee despite her foibles and her insecurities."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, December 5, 2004, Michael Cart, review of Prep, p. 709.

Entertainment Weekly, January 21, 2005, Rebecca AscherWalsh, review of Prep, p. 93.

Library Journal, December 1, 2004, Elaine Bender, review of Prep, p. 103.

People, February 21, 2005, Sue Corbett, review of Prep, p. 48.

Publishers Weekly, November 1, 2004, review of Prep, p. 41; February 28, 2005, p. 14; February 14, 2005, Daisy Maryles, review of "Prep for Success," p. 14.

School Library Journal, May, 2005, Patricia Bangs, review of Prep, p. 169.

ONLINE

Curtis Sittenfeld Home Page, http://www.curtissittenfeld.com (August 10, 2005).

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