Since Cheryl Pearl Sucher married a New Zealander in 1999, she has been living between two worlds: the Greater New York City area and the Hawkes Bay of New Zealand, two places that are about as far apart on the planet as one can travel. Though she has often felt torn between her very different lives, she has also felt that her life experience and artistic vision has been enhanced by living as both an insider and an outsider in such different but extraordinary places. This interview series is born out her experience between these worlds, and as a published fiction writer, bookseller, journalist, memoirist and avocational musical traveler.
In this edition, Cheryl talks to Joseph Caldwell about his new book In the Shadow of the Bridge. In his charming, brutally candid memoir of New York in the 1950s and 1960s, critically acclaimed novelist Joseph Caldwell recounts his bohemian life, his tenure working at WQXR, the venerated classical music station, marching in civil protests and being arrested, as well as a tragic love affair that inspired him to become a caregiver during the AIDS epidemic. This story is seen through the eyes of a young playwright who has migrated to the city to come out and live freely as a gay man and who lives just under the Brooklyn Bridge on a street and in a neighborhood that will soon cease to exist. In his adopted milieu, Caldwell meets confrères like James Baldwin, sees some success as a playwright and ends up writing for the soap operas Dark Shadows and The Secret Storm. He also falls in love with a man named Gale, and the bliss of a brief affair quickly fizzles and he is left in longing. Little does Caldwell know that, years later, after he sees success as a writer, that he will meet up with Gale again, this time under the shadow of the AIDS epidemic that has inspired Caldwell to become a caretaker for the dying. In a twist of fate, the quixotic love that plagued Caldwell his entire life gives him one last chance at a relationship but in a completely unexpected and tragic way. In the Shadow of the Bridge is an unrequited love story that somehow finds a satisfying resolution, Managing to be at once wryly funny and terribly wrenching, In the Shadow of the Bridge is a memoir that chronicles the changing tide of artistic and gay life and a New York that no longer exists, as well as an important document of the early, harrowing years of the AIDS epidemic.
Joseph Caldwell is an acclaimed playwright and novelist who was awarded the Rome Prize for Literature by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is the author of five novels in addition to The Pig Trilogy, a humorous mystery series featuring a crime-solving pig. Caldwell lives in New York City
Cheryl Pearl Sucher is an award-winning journalist, essayist, reviewer and fiction writer who lives between Cranbury, New Jersey and the Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. She has been a frequent contributing book reviewer and feature writer for The NZ Sunday Star-Times and The NZ Listener. Her first novel, The Rescue of Memory, was published by Scribner so long ago she has forgotten the exact date and an excerpt from her second novel in progress, Alive Among the Ruins, was published in 2013 in Printer's Row, the Chicago Tribune's literary supplement. From July 2013 to April 2016 she was one of four presenter/interviewers for New Zealand Hawkes Bay Television's half hour interview program CHATROOM.