Updated: July 21, 2015
The New York Times reviews Ohio Wesleyan University assistant professor Amy Butcher’s new memoir, “Visiting Hours: A Memoir of Friendship and Murder,” in its July 19, 2015, Sunday Book Review section.
In reviewing Butcher’s nonfiction account of a college friend’s stabbing of his ex-girlfriend, Times reviewer Judy Blunt states: “Butcher is strongest in the final chapters, when her eyes turn outward, investigating (Kevin) Schaeffer’s story in light of our country’s alarming suicide rate. Her research offers a tragic portrait of the turn of events that left one young woman dead and another forever changed.”
Read the complete New York Times review, “Visiting Hours.”
Originally published March 31, 2015
Ohio Wesleyan Professor, Award-Winning Writer Publishes ‘Visiting Hours: A Memoir of Friendship and Murder’
DELAWARE, Ohio – When Amy Butcher’s good friend, Kevin Schaeffer, stabbed his girlfriend, Emily Silverstein, to death in April 2009, Butcher didn’t immediately understand how deeply the tragic violence had cut into her own psyche and soul.
Six years later, Butcher has written a book about the unforgettable experience. “Visiting Hours: A Memoir of Friendship and Murder” is set for release April 7 by Blue Rider Press, an imprint of Penguin Books USA.
Butcher’s journey included writing Schaeffer monthly and visiting him in his maximum-security prison. She also returned to the scene of the crime in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and sifted through hundreds of pages of public records, including mental health evaluations, police detectives’ notes, court testimonies, and even Schaeffer’s own confession.
Butcher, M.F.A., an assistant professor of English at Ohio Wesleyan University, says Silverstein’s stabbing and its aftermath became all-consuming for her for a time as she tried to process everything that had occurred.
“I knew when I began this project it would take a very real toll on my heart and mind—and it has, I assure you,” she recently told Vela Magazine writer Molly Beer. “But I worried mostly about what it might do to others, people I care very deeply about. …
“Survivors’ guilt is very, very real, and the most I can hope for is that [the book] resonates with someone, anyone,” Butcher said. “Even one person, and I’d be satisfied.”
Butcher will continue to discuss “Visiting Hours” with media April 5, when she is scheduled to be a guest on NPR’s “Weekend Edition Sunday” with Rachel Martin.
Butcher, who teaches writing at Ohio Wesleyan, already is earning critical acclaim for her new book. An excerpt, “Reenacting,” received the 2014 Iowa Review Award in nonfiction from guest judge David Shields, a New-York-Times-bestselling author of 16 books.
Robin Hemley, author of “Do Over,” proclaims: “ ‘Visiting Hours’ is a mystery of the highest order, not merely a whodunit, as we know from the outset who killed whom, but a mystery of the human heart, exploring the ambiguous motivations of an otherwise gentle man who became a murderer and a young woman who couldn’t stop being his friend. A page turner for its pathos and gorgeous attention to language, a coming of age story like no other, Amy Butcher has written a story of no easy answers and unparalleled sensitivity.”
Robert Olmstead, a fellow Ohio Wesleyan professor and award-winning author of “Coal Black Horse,” says of Butcher: “It is not right that she is so smart, so talented and so young all at the same time. Yes, hers is a debut to envy and here we are at the very beginning.”
Butcher’s writings also have appeared in The New York Times, The Paris Review online, Tin House online, The Iowa Review, Salon, Gulf Coast, Guernica, and Brevity, among others. She earned her Master of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa and is the recipient of awards and grants from the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, the Stanley Foundation for International Research, the Academy of American Poets, and Colgate University’s Olive B. O’Connor Creative Writing Fellowship.
Learn more about Butcher at www.amyebutcher.com and more about Ohio Wesleyan’s Department of English at https://www.owu.edu/academics/departments-programs/department-of-english/. Read her complete Vela Magazine interview at velamag.com/interview-with-velas-featured-writer-amy-butcher.
Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers 86 undergraduate majors and competes in 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Ohio Wesleyan combines a challenging, internationally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities to connect classroom theory with real-world experience. OWU’s 1,750 students represent 46 U.S. states and territories and 43 countries. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the latest President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at www.owu.edu.