Mystifying New Book from One of UMF’s Very Own

Mystifying New Book from One of UMF’s Very Own

Faith Diaz Contributing Writer

    Associate Professor of English, Misty Krueger, recently released her new memoir, “The Roller Coaster: A Breast Cancer Story.” Her collection traces her breast cancer journey in various pieces of prose, poetry, and essays. 

    The book was written over the course of Krueger’s discovery of her cancer, her diagnosis, appointments, surgery, and more. Different pieces of the text range in times of their creative origin, some having been written in real time as they were happening to her or as reflection after the events had passed.

    “Roller Coaster,” according to Krueger, “traces a year in the life of a cancer patient, particularly someone with breast cancer and the treatment that she, I, received and how I dealt with that as a life changing experience.” 

    As the reader moves through the text, the story traces a linear timeline of Krueger’s life via realizations she has about her body. From being a young woman who did not consider the possibility of physical pieces of her body being removed, to an adult put into the place of having to make many quick decisions in order to save her life. 

Misty Krueger with her self-published book, now available on Amazon (Photo courtesy of Faith Diaz)

    “I follow that course through my decision to have or not have reconstruction, to have or not have chemotherapy, undergo radiation, to go on medical leave, and then the fall out of that whole experience combined,” Krueger said. 

    She described the mental toll that the experience took on her and the common misconceptions that the general public has about what it was like to live inside of a body that had cancer. “It is the whole person that is affected; its body, spirit, soul, mind, it’s everything.” 

    The story traces through all of these facets of Krueger as well as her teaching career at UMF. “I feel I would not have made it through this experience without the support from UMF,” she said. 

    When she was diagnosed in early 2018, a smaller group immediately took to showing Krueger how much they wanted to support and care for her throughout this difficult time in her life. She said, “People were reaching out to me and doing this in material ways like bringing me cookies, putting signs on my door, sending me cards, and also you know just telling me, ‘We’re here for you,’ ‘We love you,’ and ‘No matter what, you’re going to make it.’” 

    Krueger cites this positive energy, teaching, her family and more as being essential to her healing process. Her dedication to loyalty to these elements of her life were obvious in her pursuit to keep them close to her throughout her illness. “I knew that, that community would actually give me strength but, it turns out, my body was stronger than my will.” 

    As her illness progressed, Krueger grew weaker and against her usual ambitious nature, her teaching performance was affected. “I taught a month into the fall semester of 2018 and I just woke up one morning and knew I couldn’t do this to myself anymore or my students,“ Krueger said. “I wasn’t giving them the Misty Krueger experience.” 

    Through these series of realizations about what her illness meant for the other factors of her life, the UMF community stayed right by Krueger’s side even after she stopped teaching on campus. “I saw people from campus, they’d either come to me or I’d come here and mostly it was social media that really kept that community alive for me.“ 

    Krueger heard from her friends, students and colleagues alike through social media like Facebook and Twitter. Even when she could not physically see her friends due to treatment they continuously made sure she got their message. “I just felt so loved. I felt excited to come back.” 

    That excitement stayed with Krueger as she survived her illness and began her recovery. 

    “It helped me get through radiation which I was going through as I was teaching and the transition to the drugs that I have to take for 10 years to stave off the cancer. Being here helped me get through that. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for everyone here,” Krueger said. 

    During her treatment and upon her arrival back into the UMF community in the spring of 2019, Krueger had been continuously writing about her experience with breast cancer, for which she found a wealth of support to publish her work. 

     Upon the book’s release, an education class utilized the text as part of an in-class analysis. On Nov. 6, Krueger visited class to talk about her experience and answer any questions that students may have had. 

    Students were intrigued by how Krueger could publish something that had detailed descriptions of her body and mind, and were awed at how she could be so vulnerable on the page. One student, Christine Destephen, asked, “How did you deal with putting the book out and exposing yourself? 

    Krueger said, “I will tell you my husband did not want me to write this book. He said, “This is too much, you are exposing yourself, You are going to let people read this? Especially strangers?’”

Misty Krueger’s self-published book, now available on Amazon

    It was more than the idea of strangers reading her work that concerned Krueger’s husband. “Even worse for him was people we knew because he thought, ‘Strangers can read it, that’s whatever. The people you know, now they really know you, stuff about you they don’t want to know, are afraid to know, stuff that might traumatize them.’”

    Krueger still wanted to write the book because she thought that in a way, that was exactly the point. “If we don’t talk about these things, if we keep all of this stuff a secret, then no one else will talk about it and we are all suffering alone,” she said.

    As the class continued to ask their questions it was obvious that Krueger’s unique story was not only about her anymore, as she said, “It is about me and my story but there are other peoples’ lives that come into play because they are close to me.” 

    And with that closeness, for those that have since read her book, there are lives that have been affected and people that have found pieces of themselves within Krueger’s pages. 

    An unnamed student in the course had struggled with her own surgery and illness of a Cardiovascular variety and found Krueger’s description of coming out of surgery in this surreal wonder and uncomfortable state of surprisingly being alive, to be a spot-on representation of the experience. She ended her comment to Krueger simply with, “Thank you for writing this book.” 

    Krueger’s self-published book can be purchased on Amazon.

Shakespeare as Sci-Fic: New Honors Course on Proto-Science Fiction

Shakespeare as Sci-Fic: New Honors Course on Proto-Science Fiction

Faith Diaz Contributing Writer

    Professor of English Misty Krueger will be offering a new English Honors course, HON 377: Proto-Science Fiction, this upcoming Spring 2020 semester. The course is an examination of British and American literary texts prior to the 20th-century and more importantly, before the label of science fiction was placed on these texts.

    Students may be attracted to this course because, “you get to do things you wouldn’t do in another class, that’s one thing. Texts come together that don’t normally come together,” Krueger said.  “Like you don’t normally read Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”, alongside Margaret Cavendish’s  “Blazing World” or Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travel”s or “The Strange Adventures of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”. . .that’s interesting because they are across centuries.” 

    Krueger continued, “The other thing is that you get to read something that maybe you actually have read but from a new point of view or a new genre to you. So there will be students that have said, ‘Yeah, I’ve read Shakespeare.’ And I ask, ‘Well, have you read Shakespeare as sci-fi?’”

    Krueger describes the way we differentiate each piece of literature into categories and how those categories are not as set as scholars thought. “If we take canonical text that we say is highbrow ‘literature’ and we put the lenses of scifi to it, then I think sci-fi is also raised up. . . because of the way we are thinking about the class,” she said. “So it raises that stuff up but it also brings the high stuff, like Shakespeare, down. Because it’s like Shakespeare, he’s not up there anymore, he’s just down here with everyone else.”

    Kruegers’ aim is to teach students how these genres that we thought were so distinctly different, as scholars, actually have an immense overlap. Having taught this course once before, in the Spring of 2017, as a request to bring in a new Honors course and after approval by the Honors Director, then Eric Brown, Krueger is excited and prepared. 

Misty Krueger (Photo Courtesy of Misty Krueger)

    The emphasis on the blending of genres is carried out throughout the course to what will be, the students final project.  “The final examine is not a paper, it’s not a project, it’s a game. So that’s what we did. So we spent a month creating a game and everyone in the class worked on it. Its an entire class project,” said Krueger.

    Each piece of the project was individually created and produced by a student, each working on a separate entity of the game to bring it all together in a playable fashion. “Some people wrote the narrative, some people designed the pieces we played with, some people did the art for the project, some people created the booklet that would come in the game,” said Krueger, “It was like a D&D game.”

    With this game as a final project, “The most important part is that we get to create our own world, with the game, and each of these texts are creating their own worlds, which is a basic tenant of sci-fi,” said Krueger. This project allows for students to replicate the creative mental process that is happening on paper into a tangible and playable object.

    “What’s important is that they learn how to work together, students, in that they can create a game out of our course materials and they have fun. We will play the game and announce the dates and times to the university,” Krueger said.

    This course is now available in time for pre-registration on My Campus.