Truthtelling: Stories, Fables, Glimpses
With her new, dazzling collection of short fiction, Schwartz has propelled herself to the front rank of inventive short story writers such as George Saunders and David Means. Her characters are indefatigable New Yorkers whose daily lives are thwarted by a swerve of fate or a mishap or a time warp. A man lends his car to his ex-wife and is bewildered when she makes implausible excuses not to return it. A sophisticated high-end clothing store owner is taken in and manipulated by an ailing elderly neighbor who then leaves her all earthly possessions. A woman visits her ex-husband and his younger wife and realizes with a mixture of fascination and dismay how her former husband has been physically and psychologically debilitated by his new marriage. The characters from her early prize-winning novel, Rough Strife, reappear in middle-age, facing a life-threatening crisis. Schwartz's characters, presented with her impeccable style, reflect her many decades of accumulating wisdom and her sharp perspective. Contemplating 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 an original and piquant angle of intelligence to the matter of how to navigate our complex lives.
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