Alumna Wendy Wimmer (’97) has been awarded the 2021 fiction prize by Autumn House Press for her short story collection “Entry Level: Stories”. The prize was awarded by novelist Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies. Wendy Wimmer’s debut short story collection, Entry Level, contains a range of characters who are trying to find, assert, or salvage their identities. These fifteen stories center around the experience of being underemployed—whether by circumstance, class, gender, race, or other prevailing factors—and the toll this takes on an individual. Wimmer pushes the boundaries of reality, creating stories that are funny, fantastic, and at times terrifying. Her characters undergo feats of endurance, heartbreak, and loneliness, all while trying to succeed in a world that so often undervalues them. From a young marine biologist suffering from imposter syndrome and a haunting to a bingo caller facing another brutal snowstorm and a creature that may or not be an angel, Wimmer’s characters are all confronting an oppressive universe that seemingly operates against them or is, at best, indifferent to them. These stories reflect on the difficulties of modern-day survival and remind us that piecing together a life demands both hope and resilience.
At UWGB, Wimmer had a double major in English and Human Development. She also received a Distinction in the Major for her creative writing and was the fiction editor of Sheepshead Review. She is also the co-founder of UntitledTown Book and Author Festival as well as the president of The Art Garage. Many of the short stories in the collection are primarily set in the Midwest, with several stories specifically set in Northeastern Wisconsin, such as Door County and Green Bay’s shuttered Rola-Rena skating rink. The book is available for preorder from University of Chicago Press and most bookstores. It will be available everywhere in October.