Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Porter Shreve  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1966 in Washington DC

-- Website --
-- Porter Shreve on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Shreve lives in Chicago and West LaFayette, Indiana with his wife and writer Bich Minh Nguyen.

Biographical and Professional Information

Shreve is the author of the acclaimed novel The Obituary Writer, which was a New York Times Notable Book and a Book Sense 76 pick. Shreve, whom Lorrie Moore has hailed as a "wonderful and accomplished" writer, currently directs the Creative Writing Program at Purdue University.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

The Obituary Writer Pa
ISBN: 0395981328

Mariner. 2000

Gordie Hatch is twenty-two, charmingly naive, and certain that his first job as a writer for the ST LOUIS INDEPENDENT'S obituary page will be a stepping stone to a crackerjack career in journalism. The year is 1989, and Gordie watches helplessly while dramatic events -- the very events that could be his lucky break -- unfold in the world around him. But nothing can prepare him for the call he gets from Alicia Whiting, a young widow with an accent he can't quite place. When Gordie agrees to meet Alicia, against his better judgment, his journalistic curiosity quickly turns into an obsessive search for the outrageous truth behind the Whiting family. Shot through with affectionate humor and surprising twists and turns, THE OBITUARY WRITER introduces an author of enormous talent and heart. Porter Shreve brings a deft touch to the moments that mark a young person's entrance into the world, and a sharp eye to the ways in which the lead story can be wonderfully, seductively misleading.

Drives Like A Dream Pa
ISBN: 0618711929

Mariner. 2006

The New York Times called Porter Shreve’s first novel, The Obituary Writer, “an involving and sneakily touching story whose twists feel less like the conventions of a genre than the convolutions of a heart—any heart.” Newsday hailed the book as “a substantial achievement,” and Tim O'Brien described it as “taut, compelling, and moving . . . beautifully written, engrossing from start to finish.” Shining with the same heart and humor, Shreve’s second novel, Drives Like a Dream, is a smart, wry tale about a modern-day mother in the midst of a lifestyle crisis—and her outlandish attempts to get her family back.

Lydia Modine is sixty-one and about to come undone. Her three grown-up children have flown the coop. She hasn’t seen them together in more than a year, and now her ex-husband is about to remarry a woman half his age. And the insults keep coming: Lydia is stuck on a book she’s writing about Detroit’s car industry, which uncannily parallels her own life — out with the old model, in with the new. She's poured her soul into her family, only to be abandoned in the City of Dream Machines. But then a twist of fate introduces her to Norm, an eco-car fanatic out to remake her and the world. Is he the answer to all of her problems, or does he hold the one secret that just might get her children back to Detroit, home for good?

A warm, funny, and affecting novel that's sure to appeal to anyone who has longed for an alternate life, Drives Like a Dream confirms that sometimes when you set out for a spin, the twists and turns can be perfectly rewarding—and right.

When the White House Was Ours
ISBN: 0618722106

Mariner Books. 2008

Loosely based on Porter Shreve's own childhood, When the White House Was Ours is the atmospheric and captivating story of a family's struggle to stay together against great odds. It's 1976, and while the country prepares to celebrate the bicentennial, Daniel Truitt's family is falling apart. His father, Pete, has been fired from yet another teaching job, and his mother, Valerie, is one step away from leaving for good. But when Pete lucks into a crumbling mansion in the nation's capital, he makes a bold plan to start a school under his own roof where students and teachers will be equals. Replete with the wry humor, human insight, and cultural resonance that characterizes Shreve's critically acclaimed fiction, When the White House Was Ours will be a joy to anyone whose family has lived through an idealistic time and ended up in an era of compromise.


''The Obituary Writer'' was a 2000 New York Times Notable Book and a Borders Original Voices selection. ''Drives Like a Dream'' was a 2005 Chicago Tribune Book of the Year and a People "Great Reads" selection. ''When the White House Was Ours'' was a 2008 Chicago Tribune Book of the Year.

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

, for publicity questions, please contact Megan Wilson Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 222 Berkeley Street Boston, MA 02116 (617)