McCabe publishes memoir about youthful marriage

Essays borrow from women’s magazine, instruction manual, more

Can this Marriage be Saved?

In an unusual new memoir, Dr. Nancy McCabe, professor of writing at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, re-examines an ill-advised marriage undertaken in her youth.

“Can This Marriage Be Saved?” takes its title from one of the genre-bending essays woven together to create a picture of her marriage at the age of 20.

“The book is a series of chapters using extended metaphors and borrowed forms (a women’s magazine, quiz, an instruction manual, a school curriculum guide, notes for a Bible study),” McCabe explained. “The book examines my marriage and the events that led to it, including growing up in a neighborhood terrorized by a serial killer and the influence of a fundamentalist Christian upbringing.”

Excerpts from the book have previously appeared in other publications, including Newsweek, and been recognized twice by the annual Best American list of Notable Essays, a Pennsylvania Arts Council Grant, a Best of the Net nomination and a review in Brevity Magazine. The book was a recent NetGalley Homepage selection as well.

“Releasing a book in a pandemic is such a huge challenge, and this is a book written over the course of thirty years, so it was initially disappointing that the culmination of the experience is during such a difficult time,” she said. “But it’s also creating some opportunities for creative approaches and online events.”

Upcoming online events, all free and open to the public, include the following:

At 7 p.m. on Sept. 24, Carmichael’s Bookstore, an independent bookstore in Louisville, Ky., will host a conversation with McCabe and writer Michele Morano that will touch on writing about childhood and love, writing memoirs in essays and in borrowed forms.

At 7 p.m. Oct 1, McCabe and St. Marys native Rob Simbeck, whose new book, “The Southern Wildlife Watcher,” was recently released, will discuss their work in a virtual event sponsored by the Bradford Area Public Library.

On Oct. 15, Pittsburgh’s White Whale Bookstore will host a conversation between McCabe and Lori Jakiela on writing and healing.

From Nov. 18-20, McCabe will teach an online workshop on “Playing with Story Structure” focusing on creative writing using borrowed forms. The workshop is offered through Spalding University, but is open to enrollment by anyone interested in writing.

At 7 p.m. Dec. 10, McCabe will read as part of the InKY reading series, part of Louisville Literary Arts.

McCabe is a prolific essayist and author of six books, including five memoirs. Her book “From Little Houses to Little Women: Revisiting a Literary Childhood” was released as an Audible Audiobook in June. Her work has been featured in multiple anthologies and blogs. In addition to directing the writing program at Pitt-Bradford, she is also a professor of creative nonfiction and fiction at Spalding University’s low-residence Master of Fine Arts program.

She is available to visit local book clubs and speak to local organizations.