English Prof. Sonya Huber Pens New Memoir

English Prof. Sonya Huber Pens New Memoir

Supremely Tiny Acts: A Memoir of a Day book jacket image

Expected to release this fall, Supremely Tiny Acts: A Memoir of a Day, written by associate professor of English Sonya Huber, MFA, is a book-length essay about a single day, from start to finish.

Scheduled to be released this October from Ohio State University Press, Sonya Huber’s new book Supremely Tiny Acts: A Memoir of a Day transpires “inside the container of the day” in which she goes both to court to defend herself against a charge of civil disobedience and takes a trip to the DMV with her son to get his learner’s permit. On that day, Huber dwells on these two anxiety-fueled events: the arrest — at a climate protest in Times Square — that has brought her to court, and the stress of her son getting behind the wheel.  

Of her nuanced approach, the publisher noted, “Paying equal attention to minor details, passing thoughts, and larger political concerns around activism and parenting in the Trump-era United States, Huber asks: How can one simultaneously be a good mother, a good worker, and a good citizen?”

These are questions that had been gnawing at Huber, but it was a book she explained she hadn’t considered writing until she was in the thick of experiencing the day itself.

“I've long wanted to write a stream-of-consciousness book based in a day,” Huber said, “using as models novels like Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway and Nicholson Baker's The Mezzanine. But, because I was so filled with adrenaline but also had plenty of time to sit and wait on trains and subways, in courtrooms and in the DMV for my son's driving permit, I had a lot of opportunities to take notes.”

After much deliberation and numerous drafts shared with colleagues, Huber arrived at a cohesive and fresh structure for the book. And the writing world is taking note.

“It’s hard not to be impressed with the ambition of Huber’s Supremely Tiny Acts,” wrote fellow essayist Ander Monson, author of I Will Take the Answer: Essays who offered advanced praise on the book. “A day can be made to encapsulate almost everything: the minor (the simple joy of half-and-half) and the major (looming climate catastrophe, parenthood, sexual violence, and what we owe to one another). It’s a thrill when Huber pulls it off.” 

There are also elements of the book’s content as well as the experience of writing it that Huber has fused into her classroom work with Fairfield students.

“In my creative nonfiction classes, I talk constantly about essayist Phillip Lopate's idea of observing "the mind at work" which means to observe how the mind reacts minute to minute, including its tangents and associations,” Huber explained. “The book is sort of an attempt to push that to the limit. And my main project for my creative nonfiction II class is a literary journalistic ‘immersion’ in which students report and reflect on an activity as they are experiencing it — so unwittingly, I think teaching that for so many years allowed me to gear up for this.”

There are a series of virtual events planned, including a launch reading-workshop at the Westport Library on October 13. Huber has also been doing virtual "Day-Ins" all around the country, where she reads and gives participants prompts so they can explore the form. 

Huber is the author of six books, including the award-winning essay collection on chronic pain, Pain Woman Takes Your Keys and Other Essays from a Nervous System, and the forthcoming Supremely Tiny Acts: A Memoir in a Day. Her other books include Opa NobodyCover Me: A Health Insurance Memoir, and The Backwards Research Guide for Writers. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Brevity, Creative Nonfiction, and other outlets. She teaches Fairfield undergraduates and serves as a mentor in the Fairfield low-residency MFA program.

Learn more about the Department of English and the MFA in Creative Writing program in the College of Arts and Sciences.

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