Michelle Wildgen speaking at Olbrich Gardens earlier this week.
This week Michelle Wildgen was the guest speaker at a fund raising event for the Madison Public Library. Wildgen, a senior editor at Tin House, is the author of two novels set in Madison: You're Not You and her most recent work, But Not for Long.
The description of the plot of But Not for Long screams Madison and Wisconsin: The three central characters live in a housing co-op. One is a vegetarian who works at a hunger-relief nonprofit. The second writes for a trade magazine about cheese. The third character joined the co-op to escape her alcoholic husband. (In 2008, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran a five-part series on Wisconsin's culture of drinking called Wasted in Wisconsin). The personal struggles of these characters take place during an energy crisis that is causing black-outs and gas shortages in the city. But Not for Long received a short review in the New York Times last fall where the reviewer called it a "memorable book."
But Not for Long is definitely going on my 'to read' list. The story elements sound fresh and intriguing. And, if Wildgen's novel is as witty and smart as her speech was at the library fund raiser, then it will definitely be a good read. The final reason to give it a go? I love our library system and an author who supports it is an author I want to support.