Ada Calhoun

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Ada Calhoun
Ada Calhoun on a St. Marks Place rooftop, 2015
Ada Calhoun on a St. Marks Place rooftop, 2015
BornAda Calhoun Schjeldahl
(1976-03-17) March 17, 1976 (age 43)
New York City, New York
OccupationNon-fiction writer, journalist
Alma materStuyvesant High School
University of Texas at Austin
Period1998–present
Notable worksSt. Marks Is Dead (2015), Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give (2017)
SpouseNeal Medlyn (aka Jerry Neal Medlin, Champagne Jerry) m. August 21, 2004
Ada Calhoun

Ada Calhoun (born Ada Calhoun Schjeldahl, March 17, 1976) is an American non-fiction author. She is the author of St. Marks Is Dead, a history of St. Mark's Place in East Village, Manhattan, New York, and of Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give, a book of essays about marriage. She has also been a critic, serving as a frequent contributor to The New York Times Book Review.[1] a co-author and ghostwriter, having collaborated on three books by Tim Gunn;[2] and a freelance essayist and reporter. A Village Voice profile in 2015 said: “Her CV can seem as though it were cobbled together from the résumés of three ambitious journalists.” [3] She has been collected by libraries worldwide.[4]

Early life[edit]

Calhoun grew up on St. Marks Place in East Village, Manhattan. She is the only child of art critic Peter Schjeldahl and actress Brooke Alderson.[5] They appear as characters in her book St. Marks Is Dead, which she dedicates to them. She has written in The New York Times Magazine about a childhood fascination with the suburbs.[6] As a teenager, she traveled through India and met Mother Teresa.[7] She changed her name in 1998 to avoid comparison to her father.[8]

Writing[edit]

As a reporter, she has written about imprisoned women in Alabama,[9] the rap star Bobby Shmurda,[10] and the rise of DIY abortions.[11] She has also written personal essays, including three for the New York Times Modern Love column, and four for the New York Times Magazine’s “Lives” column. The New York Times named her essay “The Wedding Toast I’ll Never Give” its 41st most read story of 2015.[12] In fall 2016, W.W. Norton announced that it would publish a collection of related essays in spring 2017, called Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give.[13] In October 2017, Oprah.com published her article "The New Midlife Crisis." [14] Chartbeat named the article the internet's 55th-most-read story of 2017.[15]

St. Marks Is Dead[edit]

Her book St. Marks Is Dead was published by W.W. Norton & Company in 2015. She wrote an op-ed that fall that explained her anti-nostalgic feelings about cities and change:[16]

When I asked nostalgic people to name the street’s golden era, they cited a range of years — often falling between 1960 and 1982, but sometimes 1945, or 1958, or 2012. A Vassar student told me that St. Marks Place died with the fairly recent closing of the Starbucks at Cooper Union. “I came back from break,” he said, “and it was gone. We used to hang out there and get cups and fill them with strawberry champagne and feel glamorous. There’s no room for life to be lived there now.” I began to notice a pattern: The years people said the city was at its best almost always coincided with when they themselves were at their hottest.

St. Marks Is Dead was a New York Times Editors’ Pick, Amazon Book of the Month, and named one of the best books of the year by Kirkus Reviews,[17] the Boston Globe,[18] Orlando Weekly,[19] the New York Post. The Village Voice called it, “The Best Nonfiction Book About New York, 2015,” and said, “With St. Marks Is Dead, Ada Calhoun just became the most important new voice on old New York."[20]

The Atlantic wrote: “Timely, provocative, and stylishly written …Calhoun’s book serves as a welcome corrective to that rallying cry [that gentrification is bad], and to the tendency to romanticize New York City in the 1970s, when the city was far more riotous and permissive than it is now. … Her aplomb, in fact, is precisely what the discussion needs. Her portrait of neighborhood resilience might suggest more temperate proposals for an increasingly polarized debate.[21]

The New York Times Book Review said, “Calhoun, who grew up on St. Mark’s Place, is careful not to romanticize any one era of the East Village (which serves as a suitable proxy for much of New York City during the past century). St. Marks Is Dead is an ecstatic roll call."[22]

Weddings Toasts I'll Never Give[edit]

Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give is a memoir by Calhoun about marriage. It was inspired by the success of her New York Times “Modern Love” column, “The Wedding Toast I’ll Never Give,”[23] which the paper named one of its most-read stories of 2015.[24] The book was released on May 16, 2017 by W. W. Norton & Company.[25]

In the book, Calhoun presents seven personal essays, framed as “toasts”, that discuss topics such as infidelity, existential anxiety, fighting in rental cars, and the “soul mates” ideal.

Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give was praised in pre-publication reviews. Publishers Weekly calls it “A humorous, realistic, and loving look at marriage....Each essay mixes components of memoir and self-help, drawing on insight from Calhoun’s own marriage as well as the wise thoughts of clergymen and lessons learned from long-married couples.” Library Journal said “Alternating between hilarious personal anecdote and sobering professional insight, this memoir conveys perhaps the simplest lesson ever given about learning to make a marriage last: just don’t get divorced. Her other great contribution to the literature on marital happiness might be her explanation of why fights in cars are the worst: you cannot storm off.”[26] The book received blurbs from Molly Ringwald, Susannah Cahalan, Karen Abbott, Phillip Lopate, Carlene Bauer, Davy Rothbart, Leah Carroll, Kathryn Hahn, Gretchen Rubin, Emma Straub, and Rebecca Traister.[27]

Reviews in the New York Times Book Review, Washington Post, and elsewhere, were overall positive.[28] The New York Times “Modern Love” column published the first serial excerpt on April 23, 2017 as “To Stay Married, Embrace Change.”[29] The book was featured on the TODAY Show.[30] In the "By the Book" column of the ''New York Times Book Review'', Tom Hanks replied to the question "What was the last book that made you laugh?" with: "Ada Calhoun’s 'Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give.' I mean, underlining and yellow marker bust-out laughs." [31]

Awards[edit]

Calhoun won the 2016 Independent Publisher Book Award gold medal in U.S. History,[32] 2015 USC-Annenberg National Health Journalism Fellowship,[33] 2014 Kiplinger fellowship,[34] 2013 Council on Contemporary Families Media Award,[35] and 2014 Alicia Patterson Foundation fellowship;[36] one of her Patterson stories won the 2015 Croly Award.[37]

Personal life[edit]

In 2004, Calhoun married Jerry Neal Medlin,[38] who performs as Neal Medlyn and Champagne Jerry, whom she met when she was sent to interview him for an Austin Chronicle profile.[39] They have one son together, Oliver.[40] She is an advocate for libraries.[41] She majored in Plan II Honors at the University of Texas at Austin, where for her senior thesis she translated part of the Sanskrit Atharvaveda.[42]

Calhoun is the granddaughter of Gilmore Schjeldahl, the inventor of the plastic-lined airsickness bag.

Bibliography[edit]

  • St. Marks Is Dead. 2015. ISBN 978-0393240382.
  • Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give. 2017. ISBN 978-0393254792.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Articles by Ada Calhoun". The New York Times. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  2. ^ "Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible listing". Simon & Schuster. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  3. ^ "Has Ada Calhoun Just Become the Most Important New Voice on Old New York?". Village Voice. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  4. ^ "Calhoun, Ada". worldcat.org. Retrieved October 20, 2016.
  5. ^ "Has Ada Calhoun Just Become the Most Important New Voice on Old New York?". Village Voice. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  6. ^ "The Summer I Discovered Suburbia". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  7. ^ "Rooting for Mother Teresa". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  8. ^ "Call Me What You Will". O Magazine. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  9. ^ "Mommy Had to Go Away for A While". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  10. ^ "Bobby Shmurda Speaks Out". Billboard. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  11. ^ "The Rise of DIY Abortions". New Republic. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  12. ^ "The Top 100 New York Times Stories of 2015, by Total Time Spent". New York Times. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  13. ^ "Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give". Ada Calhoun. Retrieved September 27, 2016.[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ "The New Midlife Crisis". Oprah.com. Retrieved May 31, 2018.
  15. ^ "2017". Chartbeat. Retrieved May 31, 2018.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ "Op-Ed: My City Was Gone. (Or Was It?)". The New York Times. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  17. ^ "St. Marks Is Dead: Kirkus Review". AM New York. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  18. ^ "The best books of 2015". Boston Globe. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  19. ^ "Spend your vacation days reading the best books that came out in 2015". Orlando Weekly. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  20. ^ "St. Marks Is Dead: The Many Lives of America's Hippest Street BEST BOOK ABOUT NEW YORK (NONFICTION)". Village Voice. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  21. ^ "St. Marks Is Dead and the Complexity of Gentrification". The Atlantic. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  22. ^ "'St. Marks Is Dead,' by Ada Calhoun". The New York Post. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  23. ^ "The Wedding Toast I'll Never Give (Updated With Podcast)". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2017.
  24. ^ "The Top 100 New York Times Stories of 2015, by Total Time Spent". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2017.
  25. ^ "Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give". W. W. Norton & Company. Retrieved May 1, 2017.
  26. ^ "Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give by Ada Calhoun, Hardcover". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved May 12, 2017.
  27. ^ "Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give". Ada Calhoun. Retrieved May 1, 2017.
  28. ^ "Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give". Ada Calhoun. Retrieved May 31, 2018.
  29. ^ "To Stay Married, Embrace Change". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2017.
  30. ^ "Author Reveals Secret to Lasting Marriage: Underreacting to Problems". TODAY. Retrieved May 31, 2018.
  31. ^ "Tom Hanks: By the Book". New York Times Book Review. Retrieved May 31, 2018.
  32. ^ "2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards Results". Independent Publisher. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  33. ^ "Summaries of 2015 National Fellowship Projects". Independent Publisher. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  34. ^ "Kiplinger Program names 29 Fellows for 2014". Ohio State University. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  35. ^ "Council on Contemporary Families Honors Journalists for Outstanding Coverage of Family Issues". Council of Contemporary Families. Archived from the original on January 5, 2017. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  36. ^ "49th Annual Alicia Patterson Foundation Competition Fellowship Winners Announced for 2014". Alicia Patterson Foundation. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  37. ^ "Croly Award". General Federation of Women's Clubs. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  38. ^ "WEDDINGS/CELEBRATIONS; Ada Schjeldahl, Jerry Medlin". The New York Times. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  39. ^ "Will Anybody Ever Love Neal Medlyn?". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  40. ^ "Has Ada Calhoun Just Become the Most Important New Voice on Old New York?". Village Voice. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  41. ^ "The Unruly Pleasures of the Mid-Manhattan Library". New Yorker. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  42. ^ "Ada Calhoun Sells Book, 'St. Marks Is Dead'". Observer. Retrieved September 27, 2016.