Bill Roorbach, October 2004

represented by

Literary Agent: Betsy Lerner, The Gernert Company, 136 East 57th St., New York, NY 10022: 212-838-7777. Film Agent: Sylvie Rabineau, Rabineux /​ Wachter Agency (contact Betsy Lerner)

Prizes, Awards, Honors

<>William H.P. Jenks Chair in Contemporary American Letters, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Mass, 2004-2009
<>Maine Prize in Nonfiction for Temple Stream, 2006
<>Distinguished Visiting Writer, Ithaca College, 2006
<> J.M. Kaplan Fund, Furthermore Publication Grant, for work on Temple Stream, 2002.
<> National Endowment for the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship, 2002.
<> Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction for Big Bend, a story collection, 2001.
<> Short Story “Big Bend” including in Prize Stories 2002: The O. Henry Awards. Ed. Larry Dark, Anchor Books.
<> Short Story “Big Bend” selected for performance on NPR’s Selected Shorts, recorded live at the Getty Center, Los Angeles, June 24, 2001, aired February 3, 2002.
<> Short Story “Big Bend” selected for New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best, 2002. Ed. Shannon Ravenel, Algonquin Books.
<> Short Story “Big Bend”: 2001 Silver Rose Award for Excellence in the Short Story. The American Renaissance for the Twenty-First Century Foundation.
<> Notable Essays of 1999, Best American Essays, 2000 and Best Nature and Science Writing 2000, for “Scioto Blues.”
<> Ohio Arts Council, Individual Artist Grant in Creative Nonfiction, 1999.
<> Ohio Arts Council, Individual Artist Grant in Criticism, 1999.
<> MacDowell Fellowship, 1998: Residency.
<> Sphinx and Mortarboard honoree for excellence in teaching, The Ohio State University, 1998.
<> Seed Grant, The Ohio State University, 1997.
<> Notable Stories of 1994, Best American Short Stories, for “A Job at Little Henry’s.”
<> 1992 Bread Loaf Fellow in Nonfiction for Summers with Juliet.

Bill Roorbach Biography

Tadpole Express, spring 2009 (photo Amy Brown)

Short Bio

BILL ROORBACH is the author of eight books of fiction and nonfiction, including the Flannery O'Connor Prize and O. Henry Prize winner Big Bend (University of Georgia Press, 2001), Into Woods (University of Notre Dame Press, 2003), and Temple Stream (Random House, 2005). Life Among Giants, a novel, is due from Algonquin in 2012. The 10th anniversary edition of his craft book, Writing Life Stories (Story Press, 2008), is used in writing programs around the world. Recently, Bill was a judge on Food Network All Star Challenge, evaluating incredible Life Stories cakes made under the gun, so to speak. Bill knows nothing about cake, but he knows a lot about life stories! His work has been published in Harper's, The Atlantic Monthly, Playboy, The New York Times Magazine, Granta, New York, and dozens of other magazines and journals. His story "Big Bend" was featured on NPR's "Selected Shorts," read by actor James Cromwell at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. Bill has taught at the University of Maine at Farmington, Colby College, and Ohio State. His last academic position was the Jenks Chair in Contemporary American Letters at the College of the Holy Cross, Massachusetts. He has now retired from academia in order to write full time. A comic video memoir about his tragic music career, "I Used to Play in Bands," and all kinds of other work, including a current blog on writers and writing and just about everything else (with author David Gessner) is online at

Long Bio

Bill Roorbach was born in August, 1953, in Chicago, Illinois, to Jack and Reba Roorbach. In 1954 his family moved to suburban Boston, MA., where he attended kindergarten. In 1959 the family moved to New Canaan, Connecticut, where Bill attended public schools from first grade on. He matriculated at Ithaca College, Ithaca, New York, in 1971, was graduated cum laude in August of 1976 with a B.A. in Individual and Interdisciplinary Studies. He played piano and sang in a succession of bands then, bartended, and traveled far and wide, working briefly on a cattle ranch and extensively as a carpenter, plumber, and handyman, always writing, often playing music, all over the country and a little in Europe, ending up in New York City, first a loft in Soho, then a loft in the Meat District, where at 33, in the winter of 1987, he decided to get down to grad school.

In Columbia University’s writing program he won a School of the Arts Fellowship and a Fellowship of Distinction. A teaching assistantship made it possible to teach Logic and Rhetoric for two years in the English Department. In addition, he was a fiction editor of Columbia:A Magazine of Poetry and Prose. He was graduated with an MFA in Fiction Writing in May of 1990. He sold his first book, SUMMERS WITH JULIET, shortly thereafter, to Houghton Mifflin.

Bill was married to the painter Juliet Karelsen shortly thereafter: France, Montana, then Western Maine, where he took his first full time teaching job in September, 1991, at the University of Maine at Farmington, a small liberal arts college. Bill enjoyed four good years there, including first book publication, then took a job at Ohio State, where he taught in the MFA program and English Department, winning tenure in 1998. At OSU Bill edited the Sandstone Prize in Short Fiction.

In 2000, Juliet gave birth to a daughter, Elysia, and the family decided they wanted to live in Maine, and so returned to the house and town they'd never really left. In quick succession, he published five new books of fiction and nonfiction.

From 2004-2009 Bill commuted to Worcester, Massachusetts, where he held the Jenks Chair in Contemporary American Letters at the College of the Holy Cross.

Bill is now writing full time and enjoying life with his family and friends. in Maine. A new novel, LIFE AMONG GIANTS, is due from Algonquin, August, 2012.

Elysia and Juliet--painters at work, fall 2010

Bandmates and friends, Martha's Vineyard, August 1980

Selected Periodical Bibliography

Selected Publications, Short Stories:
<> "Investigation." Iron Horse Literary Review, 2011
<> "Windflower." The New Guard, 201O.
<> "The Fall." Playboy, July 2005.
<> "The Girl of the Lake." Ecotone, Spring 2005.
<> "Harbinger Hall." The Atlantic Monthly, December, 2004.
<> “Big Bend.” The Atlantic Monthly 287:3 (March, 2001): 60-67.
<> “Anthropology.” American Literary Review (forthcoming spring 2001)
<> “Taughannock Falls.” Witness (forthcoming spring 2001)
<> “Fog.” Another Chicago Magazine 37 (Fall 2000): 172-181.
<> “Thanksgiving.” Fourteen Hills: The San Francisco State University Review 5.1 (winter 98): 70-84.
<> “Muse.” Whetstone 12.1 (Winter 1995 96): 24 32.
<> “Fredonia.” Missouri Review 17.3 (Winter 1994): 11-26. [University of Missouri]
<> “A Job at Little Henry’s.” Harper’s Magazine 289.1733 (October 1994): 64-79.
<> “A Trapline.” Witness (fall, 1991): 16-25.
<> “Do You Love me Yet?” North Atlantic Review (spring 1991): [State University of New York, Stony Brook]
<> “Bubba Max.” The Little Magazine (summer 1990): [State University of New York, Albany]
<> “Connie’s Morning.” Whetstone 6 (summer, 1989):

Selected Publications, Short Nonfiction:
<>"Augie Doggie." River City Review, Summer, 2005
<> “Temple Stream.” Harper’s 303:1819 (December, 2001): 55-62.
<> “My Life as a Move.” Roanoke Review Volume 27 (Spring, 2002):25-41.
<> “You Have Given This Boy Life.” The Crab Orchard Review 7:1: 212-224.
<> “Birthday.” River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative 2:2 (spring 2001): 55-72.
<> “Song of the Olentangy.” Harper’s 300:79 (April 2000): 34-37.
<> “Maxine Hong Kingston.” (critical biography) Scribner’s American Authors Series (December, 1999).
<> “Scioto Blues.” Missouri Review 22:3 (winter 1999): 66-75.
<> “Convocation.” Sport Literate (summer 1999): 14-25.
<> “Ping-Pong: The Secret to Getting Published, Long Withheld, Is Revealed.” Poets and Writers 26.5 (September/​October 1998): 20-26.
<> “Four Graces for Writers of Prose.” Maine in Print 13.7 (August, 1998): 1+.
<> “Finding a Voice: Advice for those New to Nonfiction.” AWP Chronicle 31.1 (September, 1998): 38-39.
<> “Pure Nerve” USAirways Attaché August, 1998: 18.
<> “Shitdiggers, Mudflats, and the Worm Men of Maine.” Creative Nonfiction 9 (1998): 40 55.
<> “Write Your Life” Attache, the In-Flight Magazine of U.S. Airways (essay) January, 1998.
<> “Mommy, What’s a Classroom?” New York Times Magazine February 2, 1997: 30-37.
<> “Honeymoon” (memoir). Columbia 26.1 (Spring 1996): 140-153. [Columbia University]
<> “Sanctuary” (memoir). Gulf Coast 8.1 (winter 1995). 119 123. [University of Houston]
<> “Recital” (memoir). Commissioned by the Lane Opera Series of the University of Vermont for their 1995 1996 season program. Burlington, October, 1995.
<> “On Talent” (essay). A View From the Loft 18.3 (October, 1995): 4+.
<> “On Apprenticeship” (essay). Poets and Writers Magazine 23.3 (May/​June 1995): 21-23.
<> “Year Rounders” (essay). Maine Progressive, January 1994: 2.
<> “Into Woods” (memoir). Harper’s Magazine 286.1715 (April, 1993). 75-80.
<> “A Day in the Life of Death” (journalism). New York Magazine, 29 October 1990. 41-47.
<> “Summers with Juliet” (four chapters from the book). Granta 33 (Summer 1990) 195-219.
<> “Mola Mola” (memoir). The Iowa Review 20.1 (Spring 1990) 117-127. [University of Iowa]
<> “How Two Struggling but Well Meaning Writers . . .” Poets and Writers Magazine. (May/​June, 1990): 21-23.
<> “Jump” (memoir). The Sonora Review (Spring, 1990) 17-29. [University of Arizona]

Reviews for Newsday:
The Webster Chronicles, by Daniel Akst <> Desertion in the time of Vietnam, by Jack Todd <> In Fact, by Thomas Mallon<>Readings, by Michael Dirda <> Tower, by Bill Henderson <> The Farfarers: Before the Norse, by Farley Mowat <>River Horse: A Voyage Across America by William Least Heat Moon <> The Singing Line: Tracing the Australian Adventures of My Intrepid Victorian Ancestors, by Alice Thomson<> Nathaniel’s Nutmeg: Or, the True and Incredible Adventures of the Spice Trader Who Changed the Course of History, by Giles Milton <> This New Ocean, by William E. Burrows <> The Long Falling, by Keith Ridgway <> Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea, by Gary Kinder <> William Styron: A Life by James L.W. West III <> Terra Incognito: Travels to Antarctica by Sara Wheeler <> Riddle of the Ice: A Scientific Adventure into the Arctic by Myron Arms <> Rising Tide, by John M <> Deep Atlantic by Richard Ellis <> Manhood in America: A Cultural History, by Michael Kimmel <> The Object Looks Back, by James Elkins <> Heaven’s Coast, by Mark Doty <> Geography of the Heart, by Fenton Johnson <> Stool Wives, by William F. Van Wert <> The Book of the Spider, by Paul Hillyard <> Bugs in the System, by May Berenbaum <> Always, Rachel: The Letters of Rachel Carson and Dorothy Freeman. Ed. by Martha Freeman <> Signals of Distress by Jim Crace <> A Diary of the Century, by Edward Robb Ellis <> Journey to the Ants and Naturalist, by Edward O. Wilson <> Raw Deal, by Les Standiford <> A Marriage Made at Woodstock, by Cathie Pelletier <> Getting Over Tom, by Abby Thomas <> Scott Fitzgerald, by Jeffrey Meyers <> Platte River, by Rick Bass

Books by Bill Roorbach

Coming November 13, 2012, from Algonquin!
The long awaited new novel!
Nature Nonfiction
"A Marvel in a genre that's tough to master." --National Geographic Explorer
Moving True Stories of hospice and hope by six Maine authors, edited by Richard Russo, 2009.
Tilbury House: May, 2004. Three essays, three writers, one jewel of a Maine pond.
University of Notre Dame Press, 2002
Counterpoint Press, 2001 (paperback 2003)
(Winner of the Flannery O'Connor Prize for Short Fiction)University of Georgia Press, 2001, paperback: Counterpoint Press, 2003
Memoir/Nature Writing
Houghton Mifflin, 1992. Paperback: Ohio State University Press, 2000.
The Best Instruction Book on the Market
The Best Creative Nonfiction Anthology on the Market
Widely adopted, loved and admired. Oxford University Press, 2001