Posted on Monday, June 23, 2014
Award-winning author Randi Davenport '78 recently debuted her first novel, "The End of Always," published by Twelve Books Publishing Group. Set in the small towns of Wisconsin during the early 1900s and inspired by real events from Davenport's family history, "The End of Always" tells the story of one woman's desperate efforts to escape a brutal heritage.
Released this May, the novel follows 17-year-old Marie Reehs, whose mother and grandmother's marriages to abusive men have left her determined not to marry a violent man herself. Marie is being stalked by an older man during the day, and is haunted by the memory of her dead mother and her mysterious death at night. Just when Marie thinks her passionate affair with a young charismatic man will provide her the independent life she longs for, she soon realizes that she too may have inherited the Reehs women's dark family curse.
Publisher's weekly called the novel "as lyrical as it is harrowing," and noted that Davenport "shapes her story with scrupulous patience, deftly juxtaposing striking images of the Midwestern landscape with evocations of Marie's vivid inner world." Kirkus Reviews called it a "gritty yet hopeful tale."
Davenport is also the author of the award-winning memoir, "The Boy Who Loved Tornadoes" (2010), which chronicles her challenges with caring for her autistic son and her daughter as a single mother. For her work crafting this "gripping memoir of motherly love and absolute devotion," as Kirkus Reviews deems it, Davenport was awarded the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writer's Award for Creative Non-fiction, was named a finalist for the Books for a Better Life Award, and was nominated for a Ragan Old North State Cup Award for non-fiction.
In addition to her two full-length works, Davenport's short fiction and essays have appeared in Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Women's History Review, among other major publications. She has held administrative positions and taught literature and writing at several institutions, including Hobart and William Smith, Duke and most recently at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she served as the Executive Director of the James M. Johnston Center for Undergraduate Excellence and taught honors students in English and comparative literature.
Davenport graduated with a B.A. in history and creative writing. She then went on to earn both her M.A. in creative writing/fiction and her Ph.D. in literature from Syracuse University, where she was also a Creative Writing Fellow, a three-time University Fellow, and won the University's award for best dissertation of the year. While at Syracuse, she was also awarded with the University's prize for best essay in Women's Studies, and won a Graduate Research Award that allowed her to further her studies abroad.