Christie Hodgen, author of Elegies for the Brokenhearted, is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and an award-winning writer. Her father (shown above with her daughter) is John Hodgen, a poet and college teacher. A 2006 interview by the Worcester Telegram & Gazette with Christie and her father can be read here. As John Hodgen notes, Christie has always been quite observant, and that quality stands out as a strength in her writing.
Certainly the characters in Elegies for the Brokenhearted are beautifully observed portraits of flawed or wounded individuals leading marginal lives, lives most of us might overlook or ignore. Her narrator, Mary Murphy, does not overlook them, but rather speaks to the ways, large and small, each of five dead people have shaped her own life. These five people may have known her for only a brief time (a college roommate) or all her life (her mother), but each one has impacted Mary's own course through a difficult upbringing.
While never having experienced a scatter shot life of poverty and marginalization herself, Hodgen creates such memorable, well-formed characters existing on the fringes of society that the reader might think otherwise. The voices given her characters are embued with as much depth as her descriptions of them, each character perfectly identifiable by dialogue and cadence of speech. Perhaps it was the influence of poetry in her upbringing that gave Hodgen the ability to lift heavy topics to a lyrical, captivating sphere, a place where the reader will not want to look away, but rather savor each story, each elegy.
~review by Evelyn Fischel~