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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 of her experience between these worlds, and as a published fiction writer, bookseller, journalist, memoirist and avocational musical traveler.
In this edition, Cheryl talks to Lynne Sharon Schwartz, author of Truthtellng.
With her new dazzling collection of short fiction Schwartz has propelled herself to the front rank of inventive short story writers such as George Sanders and David Means. Her characters are indefatigable New Yorkers whose long-established routines are thwarted by a swerve of fate or a mishap or a time warp. A man generously lends his car to his ex-wife and is bewildered when she neglects to return it and keeps making implausible excuses not to bring it back. A neat and orderly clothing store owner is taken in and manipulated by an ailing elderly neighbor who then leaves her all earthly possessions. A woman who has been left by her husband for a younger woman and forced to visit the couple in order to see her children realizes with a mixture of fascination and elation that her former husband has been physically and psychologically debilitated by his recent marriage to a much younger wife. The majority of Schwartz’s characters reflect her many decades of accumulating wisdom and her sharp and fascinating perspective. Reflecting on the past one of her characters muses Memory is so prone to digression. To sustain a logical or chronological sequence we must keep dragging our minds off their natural course like a cowboy tugging on a calf with a rope around its neck who wants to run off into the fields. With this sort of nuanced thinking Schwartz’s fiction brings new angles of intelligence to day-to day questions
Lynne Sharon Schwartz is the author of eight novels, three short story collections, three essay collections, three books of poetry, and three translations from Italian. Among them are the novels Rough Strife (nominated for a National Book Award) and Leaving Brooklyn (nominated for a PEN/Faulkner Award in fiction), and the memoirs Ruined by Reading and Not Now, Voyager. She has received grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEA in fiction and translation, and the New York State Foundation for the Arts. She teaches at the Bennington Writing Seminars and Columbia University's School of the Arts. Schwartz lives in New York City.