Speak The Mag

Truthtelling: Stories, Fables, Glimpses

October 29

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.