Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Stephen Elliott  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult;

Born: 1971 in Chicago, Illinois

-- Website --
-- Stephen Elliott on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Elliott is a native of Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Stephen Elliott spent the ages of 13 through 18 in state custody, growing up in juvenile detention facilities, group homes, and foster care. After being shunted through the various institutions run by the Illinois Department of Child & Family Services, Elliott came into the good care of the Jewish Children’s Bureau. From there, he went back to school and graduated from high school; earning a scholarship to the University of Illinois. After receiving his BA, he went on to Northwestern for an MA in Film Studies. In 2001, he was awarded the prestigious Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University. Currently, Elliott currently lives in San Francisco and teaches creative writing at Stanford University and has served as the Coordinator of the University’s Writer’s Studio. He is a frequent contributor to ''GQ'', ''Esquire'', ''The Village Voice'', the ''San Francisco Chronicle'', ''The Believer'', ''McSweeney’s'', ''The Sun'' and ''The Huffington Post''. Elliott is also the founder of ''The Progressive Reading Series'' which helps authors raise money and participate on behalf of progressive candidates and causes across the country. He also continues to be an advocate for reform in our child welfare system.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Life Without Consequences
ISBN: 0613683587

San Val. 2002

A Life Without Consequences is a semi-biographical novel from emerging author Stephen Elliott. His novel traces the fate of Paul, a boy whose mother has died and who runs away from a violent father. The book follows Paul from living on the streets of Chicago to passing through juvenile institutions and a state system that is primarily programmed for failure. There, he meets Tanya and they fall in love but they are young and are separated after a failed attempt to escape the institution. Paul battles through the violent system all the while battling his own rapidly budding adolescence. But as he turns sixteen he starts to come to terms with his own path, not as an adult, but as a scared child and we see that Paul’s emotions that we think of as anger are actually the determination to take control of his future. While the characters are fictional, they are representative of many and we realize the fragility of childhood and the burden on the children who have nowhere else to go.

What It Means to Love You
ISBN: 1931561184

Macadam Cage Pub. 2002

In the underworld of Chicago's Halsted Street, a red-light district littered with the homeless, runaways, and the lost, three lives converge in an explosive triangle of love, revenge, and betrayal.
Lance, a brutal addict in love with Brooke, a seventeen-year-old prostitute, trades on his beauty in male strip clubs to support his habit. Anthony, whose motives for dancing are more complex, but equally self-destructive, offers Brooke a way out of her life on the street - but is not sure he can leave himself. In confronting each other, the two men must confront the demons which have driven them to Brooke, the street, and each other.

Looking Forward to It: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the American Electoral Process
ISBN: 0312424159

Picador. 2004

Stephen Elliott does not know what to think of American voters, this year's desperate and heated run for presidency, or the legitimacy of the political system. He doesn't know whether to love John Kerry or try to love Howard Dean or try, simply, to get excited about Politics. But what he does know is that most Americans are as confused, taxed and broken-hearted as he is.

Looking Forward To It is the chronicle of one ordinary fellow's skeptical -- and hilarious -- journey through the election process. It is on the campaign trail that he will meet washed-out campaign managers, idealistic publicists, corrupt journalists, world-weary auditorium janitors, recovering drug addicts, and, of course, politicians. His report documents a journey into the center of "the thing", our country, where Americans high and low come together to participate in the most profound gesture of democracy: the election.

Happy Baby
ISBN: 033043831X

Picador. 2005

'Happy Baby is surely the most intelligent and beautiful book ever written about juvenile detention centers, sadomasochism and drugs . . . Heartbreaking' New York Times Book Review HAPPY BABY is the story of Theo, once the eponymous happy baby, but later an orphan in foster care and now a grown man living in California. Haunted by memories of neglect, abandonment and abuse, Theo returns to Chicago where he lived as a troubled adolescent, to track down an old girlfriend. Told in reverse order, this is an edgy and powerful novel, chilling in its portrayal of a life slowly yet systematically disintegrating. 'Telling his story backward . . . is a graceful strategy that gives Happy Baby its unique veracity and humane edge. It also allows the narrative to transcend the shocking details of Theo's life, which Elliott reveals in quick verbal jabs that pepper his otherwise tightly wound prose' Village Voice

My Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me Up
ISBN: 1573442550

Cleis Press. 2006

This blistering new collection from literary rising star Stephen Elliott demonstrates once again why his books have been praised as “graceful,” “soaring,” and “fearless.” As with all of Elliott’s work, these stories have the raw ring of truth filtered through the author’s downbeat-poetic sensibility. My Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me Up follows the narrator on a dizzying ride through past and present, from a group home for troubled adolescents in Chicago where he loses his virginity to shooting galleries and homeless encampments in San Francisco where he searches for deeper and darker thrills. In “Other Desires,” a flood of unsettling memories backgrounds the narrator’s involvement with a loose-knit family of lost souls. “Tears” explores the disturbing complexities of an S/M Internet hook-up. Several of the stories feature the enigmatic Eden, the narrator’s polyamorous mistress. With My Girlfriend, Elliott confirms his status as a major young writer of a kind of literary fiction that recalls the work of Genet and Bukowski.

The Adderall Diaries: A Memoir
ISBN: 1555975704

Graywolf Press. 2010

In this groundbreaking memoir, Stephen Elliott pursues parallel investigations: a gripping account of a notorious San Francisco murder trial, and an electric exploration of the self. Destined to be a classic, The Adderall Diaries was described by The Washington Post as "a serious literary work designed to make you see the world as you've never quite seen it before."


Happy Baby

  • Finalist, Young Lions Award
  • Silver Medal, California Book Award
  • Favorite Books of 2004, New York Newsday
  • Top 10 Books of the Year , Salon
  • Top 5 Books of 2004, Newcity Chicago
  • Favorite Books of the Year, Village Voice
  • Looking Forward to It

  • Favorite Books of the Year, Village Voice

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)