Author Tessa Fontaine to visit Sweet Briar as part of Writers Series

Posted on September 25, 2018 by Amy Ostroth

Tessa Fontaine and the cover of her book, "The Electric Woman: A Memoir in Death-Defying acts"
As part of Sweet Briar’s 2018-2019 Writers Series, author Tessa Fontaine will be on campus for a reading and talk at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 2, in the Reahard Learning Gallery in Mary Helen Cochran Library.

Fontaine is the author of “The Electric Woman: A Memoir in Death-Defying Acts.” The book follows the author through her time on the road with the last traveling American sideshow, World of Wonders, and her relationship with her mother. The book has won several accolades, including being named a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick, an Amazon Editors’ Best of the Month featured debut and one of Amazon’s Best Books of 2018.

Fontaine wrote the book after spending the 2013 season performing with World of Wonders. Rachel Khong of The New York Times Book Review wrote of “Electric Woman”: “Throughout this narrative is the story of [Fontaine’s] relationship with her mother, a story that is sometimes its own hard-to-watch sideshow act. Fontaine is unafraid to write the ugliness ― the imperfect care and love ― that takes place between people, and the memoir is most ‘electric’ when it doesn’t shy from that imperfection … I’m stunned by the beauty of Fontaine’s rhythms and images.”

Fontaine was raised outside of San Francisco and earned her Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Alabama, where she won numerous awards for her writing in fiction, nonfiction and poetry. She has had several fellowships, including one at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Fontaine is also an actress, having performed her one-woman plays in theaters from New York to San Francisco.

She is the second author in the 2018-2019 Writers Series at Sweet Briar. Beth Macy visited campus on Sept. 20 and Chimamanda Adichie will visit on Thursday, Oct. 25. Susannah Nevison and Meg Day will close out the 2018-2019 Writers Series on Thursday, March 14, 2019.

For more information about these authors and the Sweet Briar College Writers Series, contact John Gregory Brown, director of the English and creative writing program, at or 434- 381-6434.