Introducing Kate Carroll de Gutes

kate_smIt’s hard to remember a time when I didn’t know that Kate Carroll de Gutes was a force of nature. Her directness, her kindness, her ability to see what needs to be done in a situation and then pitch in and do it. She’s already brought so much to Storyknife, and we are so excited that she’s agreed to be part of the Advisory Council.

Kate Carroll de Gutes’ book, Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear, won the 2016 Oregon Book Award for Creative Nonfiction and a 2016 Lambda Literary Award in Memoir. She is a wry observer and writer who started her career as a journalist and then got excited by new journalism which became creative nonfiction and is now called essay (personal, lyric, and otherwise). Kate writes on a wide range of topics, but her obsession seems to focus on sexuality and gender presentation, and living an authentic life.

Here’s an excerpt from her book, Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear:

I can’t remember if the lapels of the tuxedo jacket were crushed velvet or shiny satin, some of the details are simply lost to the degrading dendrites and failing synapses of time. It was a black jacket, however, even though it was 1982 and it could have easily been powder blue. The shirt was a classic tuxedo shirt, the buttons and bow tie permanently attached. You actually slid into the shirt back to front and secured it up the back with a bit of Velcro, the quicker to get the high school seniors in and out of the photo studio.

Still. Tuxedo.

This is how it felt to change from the black velvet drape to the tuxedo: it was like diving into a cool, mineral-laden river, the way water slides all silky over skin turned pink from too much July sun, the way a body moves with the current—slipping along seemingly languidly only to find itself much further downstream than expected.

Or it felt like this: like a sigh made at the end of a long day when at last you can crawl into your big, king-sized bed just made with clean, purple 600-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets—like a whisper across your tired body—the memory foam mattress a reminder of what soft is supposed to feel like.

It did not feel like sitting exposed on top of a whiterock mesa in New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon, the wind kicking up the fine grit of desert topsoil and the pulverized sandstone, exfoliating the fair Irish skin on my cheeks and neck, searing my eyes, worrying my chattering mind about melanomas and carcinomas and survival in this too-bright landscape. No, that’s what the velvet drape—off the shoulder, no pushup bra or pearls—felt like.

The way I remember it is that it didn’t occur to me NOT to wear a tuxedo for my senior portrait. I felt handsome not beautiful, dapper not sexy. Of course tuxedo rather than drape. Of course bow tie rather than earrings.

You can learn more about Kate and sign up to get an essay a week from her about grief, the drama of perimenopause and dating, riding bikes, and the joys and challenges of authentic living at

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