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Steven Church


Steven Church is the author of The Guinness Book of Me: a Memoir of Record, Theoretical Killings: Essays and Accidents, The Day After The Day After: My Atomic AngstUltrasonic: EssaysOne with the Tiger: Sublime and Violent Encounters between Humans and Animals, and I'm Just Getting to the Disturbing Part: On Work, Fear, and Fatherhood, published in Spring 2018 by Outpost19. His essays have been published and anthologized widely. He is a Founding Editor and Nonfiction Editor for the nationally recognized literary magazine, The Normal School; and he Coordinates the residential MFA Program at Fresno State and teaches for the low-residency MFA Program at Sierra Nevada College. 

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Steven Church


Steven Church is the author of The Guinness Book of Me: a Memoir of Record, Theoretical Killings: Essays and Accidents, The Day After The Day After: My Atomic AngstUltrasonic: EssaysOne with the Tiger: Sublime and Violent Encounters between Humans and Animals, and I'm Just Getting to the Disturbing Part: On Work, Fear, and Fatherhood, published in Spring 2018 by Outpost19. His essays have been published and anthologized widely. He is a Founding Editor and Nonfiction Editor for the nationally recognized literary magazine, The Normal School; and he Coordinates the residential MFA Program at Fresno State and teaches for the low-residency MFA Program at Sierra Nevada College. 

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Praise for Steven Church's I'm Just Getting to the Disturbing Part, released May 1, 2018

"Steven Church is one of the bravest and fiercest essayists we’ve got. I’m Just Getting to the Disturbing Part made me think hard about the true nature of love, fatherhood, and fear. He takes us along roads “whiskered in snow” and deep into the mineshafts where the heart’s confusions echo. I was stunned by the candor and eloquence of these pieces. I felt a lot less alone reading them. That’s what I’m always looking for in a book." ― Steve Almond

"There's a moment in nearly every one of Steven Church's essays where the inner and outer world come together or come in conflict ― a moment when what the essayist is thinking, the way he considers himself, changes, and he is left to confront something he didn't know was there. This is the power of I'm Just Getting to the Disturbing Part, Church's decision not to reveal himself so much as to let himself be revealed. In this collection, he takes us to his own dark places, writing about responsibility, to ourselves and to others, and what it means. His conclusion? That there is no secret, no magic incantation, just our day-to-day existence, which means that we are always figuring it out as we go along." ― David L. Ulin

“These are piercing explorations of the vulnerability that we’re hostage to when we care deeply about our communities, our futures, and, particularly, our offspring . . . clear-eyed observations that are beautiful and necessary.” ― Beth Ann Fennelly

"Steven Church explores his varied work history for rich stories about the fears and challenges of becoming a responsible adult, but ultimately it’s his heart, particularly when it comes to becoming a parent, that yields the greatest wealth. A powerful and deeply moving collection of essays that shows a writer working at the top of his craft." ― Jerald Walker

 

 

 

 

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I'm Just Getting to the Disturbing Part


I'm Just Getting to the Disturbing Part


I’m Just Getting to the Disturbing Part follows the author’s time in Arizona and Colorado working as a tour guide at a gold mine and at the Meteor Crater Natural Landmark, as well as his stint as a Maintenance Man in a ski town and eventually his role as a professor and father. Detailing his struggles to make his marriage work and to find a safe place to call home, the book follows Church and his young family through several moves between different houses and different states, chronicling family life and fatherhood in a post-9/11 world filled with new threats and fears, some of which are manufactured and others of seem to arise organically from the constantly shifting landscape of their life. Shaped by odd facts, interesting history, current events, narrative suspense, and tragedy, I’m Just Getting to the Disturbing Part stitches together themes of work, love, fear, and fatherhood into a richly patterned, humorous, and emotionally resonant memoir-in-essays.

 


 

The title chapter of the book has been anthologized annually in the textbook, The Fourth Genre: Contemporary Writers of/on Creative Nonfiction, and is taught in writing classrooms across the country. It follows the young married couple down from the mountains to the Front Range of Colorado and to Fort Collins, a place regularly voted one of the best places to live in America. The essay marries form and content in a looping, suspense-filled, emotionally powerful consideration of loss and tragedy through the lens of a drowning that the author witnessed. 

appearances for I'm Just Getting to the Disturbing Part

April 21, 2018 LitHop Fresno, CA, 5 pm at Goldstein's Mortuary and Delicatessen

May 11, 2018 Fresno Poet's Association Reading, Fresno State University, 7 pm, Alice Peters Auditorium

June 12, 2018 Powell's City of Books, Burnside, Portland, OR 7 pm with Aaron Gilbreath. 

 

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One with the Tiger


On September 21, 2012, twenty-five year old David Villalobos purchased a pass for the Bronx Zoo and a ticket for a ride on the Bengali Express Monorail. Biding his time, he waited until the monorail was just near the enclosure of a four hundred pound Siberian tiger named Bashuta before leaping into it. They spent ten long minutes together in the tiger’s cage before nature took its course, with one exception: The tiger did not kill him. David’s only response: “It’s a spiritual thing. I wanted to be at one with the tiger.”

One with The Tiger: Sublime and Violent Encounters between Humans and Animals uses David’s story, and other moments of violent encounters between humans and predators, to explore the line between human and animal. Exposing what the author defines as the “shared liminal space between peace and violence,” Church posits that the animal is always encroaching on the civilization —and those seeking its wildness are in fact searching for an ecstatic moment that can define what it means to be human. Using examples from Timothy Treadwell to Mike Tyson, or such television icons as Grizzly Adams and The Incredible Hulk, Church shows how this ecstasy can seep its way into the less natural world of popular culture, proving time and again that each of us can be our own worst predator.

One with the Tiger


On September 21, 2012, twenty-five year old David Villalobos purchased a pass for the Bronx Zoo and a ticket for a ride on the Bengali Express Monorail. Biding his time, he waited until the monorail was just near the enclosure of a four hundred pound Siberian tiger named Bashuta before leaping into it. They spent ten long minutes together in the tiger’s cage before nature took its course, with one exception: The tiger did not kill him. David’s only response: “It’s a spiritual thing. I wanted to be at one with the tiger.”

One with The Tiger: Sublime and Violent Encounters between Humans and Animals uses David’s story, and other moments of violent encounters between humans and predators, to explore the line between human and animal. Exposing what the author defines as the “shared liminal space between peace and violence,” Church posits that the animal is always encroaching on the civilization —and those seeking its wildness are in fact searching for an ecstatic moment that can define what it means to be human. Using examples from Timothy Treadwell to Mike Tyson, or such television icons as Grizzly Adams and The Incredible Hulk, Church shows how this ecstasy can seep its way into the less natural world of popular culture, proving time and again that each of us can be our own worst predator.

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Ultrasonic (essays)


Ultrasonic is a collection of linked essays that explore how sound can be used to search for deeper meaning beneath the surface of everyday life. Delving into questions of identity, family, fear, loss, and the politics of space, the book becomes an idiosyncratic exploration of identity amidst the cultural noise of contemporary life in America. Each chapter operates both as an independent essay and as an echo chamber for larger ideas, and it gazes at our human predicament through such varied lenses as trapped miners, stethoscopes, racquetball, language, loitering, violence, Elvis, and the music of torture. Weaving narrative and thematic threads into a richly layered collage-like tapestry, Ultrasonic functions as a sound map of Church’s consciousness and as a lyrical memoir of fatherhood. 

 

“If you liked Leslie Jamison’s Empathy Exams or Charles D’Ambrosio’s Loitering, try Steven Church’s latest collection, Ultrasonic, a group of essays brought together by the theme of sound. Church at times seems to say, I make noise, therefore I am. He dissects the nature of sound waves in a racquetball court, counts the seconds between lightning and thunder, and listens for signs of life from trapped miners—and his digressions invariably come back around to sucker punch you. Church uses sound to explore notions of masculinity and fatherhood, love and death.”

— The Paris Review

Ultrasonic (essays)


Ultrasonic is a collection of linked essays that explore how sound can be used to search for deeper meaning beneath the surface of everyday life. Delving into questions of identity, family, fear, loss, and the politics of space, the book becomes an idiosyncratic exploration of identity amidst the cultural noise of contemporary life in America. Each chapter operates both as an independent essay and as an echo chamber for larger ideas, and it gazes at our human predicament through such varied lenses as trapped miners, stethoscopes, racquetball, language, loitering, violence, Elvis, and the music of torture. Weaving narrative and thematic threads into a richly layered collage-like tapestry, Ultrasonic functions as a sound map of Church’s consciousness and as a lyrical memoir of fatherhood. 

 

“If you liked Leslie Jamison’s Empathy Exams or Charles D’Ambrosio’s Loitering, try Steven Church’s latest collection, Ultrasonic, a group of essays brought together by the theme of sound. Church at times seems to say, I make noise, therefore I am. He dissects the nature of sound waves in a racquetball court, counts the seconds between lightning and thunder, and listens for signs of life from trapped miners—and his digressions invariably come back around to sucker punch you. Church uses sound to explore notions of masculinity and fatherhood, love and death.”

— The Paris Review

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The Parkfield Project


The Parkfield Project


The "Parkfield Project" is a book project focused on the small town of Parkfield, California, the self-proclaimed, Earthquake Capital of the World. Located in the Cholame Valley, and on the boundary between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates, Parkfield is home to the USGS's Parkfield Experiment, a long-running experiment in earthquake prediction, and of more seismic sensing technology than anywhere in North America. Home to firefighters and artists, entrepreneurs and eccentrics, the Cholame is owned in large part by two families, the Hearsts and the Varians, each with their own indelible imprint on the history of California and of the country. 

Please check out the page, "Online Publications," for some selections from this project.