Community Invited to Premiere of Cheryl Unruh’s New Memoir and Celebration of Emporia’s Literary Community
Emporia, KS—Flyover People essayist Cheryl Unruh, takes the stage for a literary celebration, complete with reading and book signing as Meadowlark Press releases Unruh’s new memoir, Gravedigger’s Daughter: Vignettes from a Small Kansas Town, at Lyon County History Center on Saturday, November 13 at 1:00pm.
An array of regional books will be available for purchase, including other titles by Unruh, as well as books published by Meadowlark Press.
Unruh’s memoir details a small-town childhood as the daughter of a carpenter-father, who also happens to be the town cemetery caretaker. As Cheryl grows, so does her comprehension of her father’s particular maladies, a skin-condition that is not discussed by the family, as well as his struggles with depression. Presented in short vignettes, Gravedigger’s Daughter introduces Unruh’s father from a child’s eye view, and then via observations and interactions that take us through Unruh’s adolescence to adulthood. Divided into three parts, the book covers Unruh’s childhood in Pawnee Rock, her father’s middle-age years when she lived away, and his later years.
Unruh grew up in the town of Pawnee Rock in central Kansas, population 400, in the 1960s and 70s. “The stories, or vignettes, are poem-shaped, but each captures a moment in time. I see each one as a snapshot,” Unruh says. “While I will never be able to relate the entirety and complexity of a life, I hope that some of my dad’s weird and wonderful personality shines through.”
From Laura Moriarty, author of The Chaperone: “With Gravedigger’s Daughter, Cheryl Unruh has created something so fresh and inviting—a memoir in lean vignettes. Each is moving on its own, and also part of a compelling portrait of a childhood in an isolated town with a dwindling population. Unruh’s details are too specific for sentimentalism, but places and people are observed with a loving gaze that also feels wise and honest. Her father, especially, emerges as both haunted and quietly heroic. What a beautiful book.”
Fans of Cheryl’s two previous collections of vivid Kansas essays, Flyover People (2011 KS Notable Book) and Waiting on the Sky (2015 KS Notable Book), and Walking on Water, her collection of poetry, will delight in this memoir. Unruh hopes that the book will inspire readers to write their own stories “whether they write for their own pleasure or choose to share their stories with family and friends or perhaps even go on to publish their writing.” Unruh will be scheduling a series of memoir writing workshops starting in the spring of 2022.