Ander Monson

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Ander Monson is an American novelist, poet, and nonfiction writer.


He was raised in Houghton, Michigan in the Upper Peninsula. His mother's death when he was seven years old is reflected in the themes of his later fiction.[1] He received his Bachelor of Arts from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois.[2] He went on to earn an MA from Iowa State University and an MFA from the University of Alabama.

Monson's first two books, the novel Other Electricities and the poetry collection Vacationland, were published in 2005. Other Electricities was praised widely for its innovative approach, lyric intensity, and grim humor.[3] His nonfiction debut, Neck Deep and Other Predicaments: Essays was published in February 2007. It was critically acclaimed for its imaginative reworkings[4] of the form of the essay. In March 2010 Graywolf Press published his collection of essays titled "Vanishing Point: Not a Memoir." [5] The collection includes his essay "Solipsism" which was originally published on his website, republished by Pinch, and anthologized in Best American Essays 2008. [6] In July 2010 Sarabande published a collection of his poetry titled "The Available World." [7]

Monson is the editor of the literary magazine DIAGRAM,[8] and the New Michigan Press.[9][10] He lives in Tucson, Arizona, and teaches at University of Arizona.[11][12][13]


  • 2007 John C. Zacharis First Book Award from the literary journal Ploughshares, for Other Electricities
  • 2006 New York Public Library's Young Lions Award finalist, for Other Electricities
  • Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize, for Neck Deep and Other Predicaments: Essays
  • 2007 Christopher Isherwood Foundation fellowship
  • 2008 Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award, for Neck Deep and Other Predicaments
  • 2008 Knox College Junior Alumni Achievement Award
  • 2010 National Book Critics Circle Finalist in Criticism for Vanishing Point





Interspersed throughout Other Electricities are a series of radio schematics, black and white diagrams of nodes and connections. Next to them, Ander Monson has written what at first appear to be impenetrable captions: “Dear, some distances are accidental”; “Dear, distance is a constellation, dead light from distant stars"; “Dear, this distance is now all I have, a wine-dark sea, a solo moan, a haunting." There’s no terminal punctuation; the sentences just hang there in midair, a lot like a radio transmission that suddenly goes dead. There’s a growing sense of desperation in the messages as the book progresses, and it ends with a final one-line transmission that somehow both ties everything together and busts it apart. If that sounds vague, it’s because Other Electricities affects you on an ethereal level -- it’s angelic and musical, and more than anything I’ve read recently, it begs to be experienced and not just read.[15]

Ander Monson grew up in remote, grim northern Michigan and (if we trust the poems) lost at least two of his closest friends before they had finished high school. Or, if you prefer: Ander Monson has breathed life into a fictive northern Michigan townscape where two teenagers have died in an auto accident before finishing high school, and a third narrates poems about them.[16]


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