Monroe and her characters have humor and wit and gumption. The opening novella is a wonderful overture to the rest of the collection. In it you meet almost all the characters to come, for these stories are interrelated, and the experience is like that of novel. In lush but hard-bitten prose, we move forward in time. People grow up, for bad or good, and the reader watches, rooting for them, worrying. Reading A Wild, Cold State is like peeling an onion. When you get to the next layer of it, you’re teary-eyed, but know that you’ll keep going.
—Leigh Allison Wilson, Washington Post
Folks used up by desire roam the rural Wisconsin landscape against which Debra Monroe’s bittersweet stories are set.
—Vanity Fair (a “Hot Type” selection).
Most impressive is Monroe’s ability to build a large world with the confines of one story—a world where the narrator’s deep past, the relationships of a lifetime, and her hopes for the future, continuously inform the present. Like Alice Munro’s stories, Debra Monroe’s stories have a depth of field lacking in much contemporary short fiction, and they focus not on small epiphanies but on major, usually immutable life conditions.
—Wanda Urbanska, Los Angeles Times
Monroe’s stories are full of a rare charm and intelligence. More than the sum of its impressive parts, the collection is a harmonious, elegant work of art.
—Evelin Sullivan, San Francisco Chronicle
The stories are—however unrequited or just plain screwed up the quest for love turns out to be—love stories in a classic mode. But the telling and the seeing are absolutely clear-eyed. There’s plenty of emotion, but not a hint of sentimentality. And a quite wonderful (dare I say Proustian?) ability to see the world from a child’s perspective.
—Geoffrey Stokes, Boston Sunday Globe
There are some real people in this book, and Debra Monroe knows how to make them think and feel. She recreates life on the page, and the troubles of the human heart, and she gets it right.
—Larry Brown, author of Big, Bad Love
Monroe sweetly captures the intense and conflicting emotions that define first love. All the characters are believably confused and endearingly desperate. Whether she’s describing a sleazy bar, a small town café, or the Big Muskie Museum, Monroe is convincing and entertaining.
—Timothy Hunter, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Brilliant stories of love and sorrow.
The interconnected stories create a vivid culture with its full mix of yearning and dread, its individuals searching for something true deep and lasting in the land of Midori and Maury Povich, and the real, cold weather that cuts through to the soul.
—Jerome Stern, Tallahassee Democrat
Monroe has the gift of knowing her voice as a writer and marrying it to her clean but dreamy style of prose and dark humor. This is as tough, funny and hip as the blues songs that pepper Monroe’s writing—and as impressive a series of short fiction as I’ve ever read.
—Nicole Crews, Greensboro News & Record
Even when cold, these characters are hopelessly charming. —Kirkus Reviews