An American fiction writer, she is known for such humorous, bestselling short story collections as Self-Help, Like Life, and Birds of America. Her novels include A Gate at the Stairs and Anagrams.
After graduating from St. Lawrence University, she moved to Manhattan and worked as a paralegal for two years. Later, she received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Cornell University.
Her works are often set in the Midwestern United States and deal with subjects such as failing relationships and terminal illnesses.
She grew up in Glen Falls, New York.
She admired the work of political satirist Stephen Colbert.