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It Takes A Worried Woman

Essays by Debra Monroe
Coming Soon from UGA Press

Debra Monroe has always written about the so-called source of trouble: “that one incident you zero down to and everything bad that happens after it happens because of it.” The illusion that every problem has a clear-cut cause and still undiscovered solution is apparently her gateway drug. It Takes a Worried Woman explores the outer edges of her faith that all past hardship could have been prevented and all future hardship might still be.  


Yet one person’s trouble is often an eddy in the outflow of history, and this book becomes a meditation on the price of effort exerted against unyielding circumstance. Lyrical, deft, trenchant, at times darkly funny, these essays are preoccupied with sexism, with dwindling access to the natural world, and with national headlines turning suddenly too germane. The limits of problem-solving become paralyzingly clear. Whether depicting the search for a shape-shifting familiar old enough to be her mother, the ubiquitous pressure to marry, childcare as a game of risk, or violent extremism, Debra Monroe assesses problems that might be solved, problems that may never be, and all the ways that trouble is big but new strategies, fresh patience, and sheer endurance are eventually enough.

Debra Monroe sings a worried song with fierce, introspective honesty about sex, love, marriage, parenting, violence, acquaintance rape, hate crimes, the COVID pandemic, and worry itself, its value and its cost. These essays have qualities that made me a longtime fan of her fiction—scalpel-sharp prose that is poetic without calling undue attention to itself, vividly drawn scenes, and the kind of intelligence that never loses contact with the heart.

 —David Jauss, author of Glossolalia: New & Selected Stories


If humanity’s defining feature is consciousness, then worry is its sidekick. Debra Monroe’s It Takes a Worried Woman embraces this most human activity and rides with it across worlds: worry can be “precaution,” generator of “outlandish solutions.” It even marks those places—brutal politics, racial violence, gender violence—where no worry should need to exist, yet does. At one point Monroe describes her life as “like a house you’d built yourself out of odds and ends creaking and shaking and shuddering at every unexpected gust.” I give Monroe the great compliment of wanting to sit in this house with her, endlessly, reveling in this voice.  

—Susanne Paola Antonetta, author, The Terrible Unlikelihood of Our Being Here

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About Debra

Debra Monroe is the author of seven books: two story collections, The Source of Trouble and A Wild, Cold State; two novels, Newfangled and Shambles; two memoirs, On the Outskirts of Normal and My Unsentimental Education; and one essay collection, It Takes a Worried Woman. She is also the editor of the anthology Contemporary Creative Nonfiction. Her essays have appeared in many venues, including Longreads, The Southern Review, The New York Times, The American Scholar, Solstice, Guernica, Rumpus, and they have been cited as Notable in Best American Essays many times.

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