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Robert Oldshue biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Readalikes

Robert Oldshue
Photo: Robin Radin

Robert Oldshue

Robert Oldshue Biography

When he isn't writing, Robert Oldshue practices family medicine at a community health center in Boston. He holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College, and his work has appeared in the Bellevue Literary Review, the Gettysburg Review, and New England Review. He is married and has two children.



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Interview

Joan Silverman talks with Robert Oldshue, whose debut story collection recently won the Iowa Short Fiction award, about how his writing life blends opposing forces in medicine and writing.

How strange is this whole process of the book's publication, given that your daily life is so different?

I've been thinking about that balance – about how my writing relates to my medical practice. I teach interviewing and history-taking over at Harvard Medical School. Today we were talking about empathy and sympathy.

Empathy, at least as we teach it to students, is an act of professionalism, a disciplined concern for others in which you consider their needs and you meet them. Sympathy is "Oh, my Gosh! I can't believe what you're going through."

At the office, I'm required to show empathy. I may personally like or dislike you, but I have to show disciplined brotherly feeling anyway. There's a distance, a role, a duty. In my short stories, I put down that role. I think I write out of sympathy. This is the place where I can explore freely ideas, or characters, or people who have moved me.

That seems to suggest that writing somehow requires less discipline than medicine. Yet it takes great discipline to get characters on the page in a way that makes sense.

My job as a doctor is to take the particulars and generalize about them – to make sure that whatever treatment I give would...

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Books by this Author

Books by Robert Oldshue at BookBrowse
November Storm jacket
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All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Robert Oldshue but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Megan Mayhew Bergman

    Megan Mayhew Bergman

    Megan Mayhew Bergman grew up in Rocky Mount, North Carolina and attended Wake Forest University. She has graduate degrees from Duke University and Bennington College. Her stories have appeared in the 2010 New Stories from the... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    November Storm

    Try:
    Birds of a Lesser Paradise
    by Megan Mayhew Bergman

  • Sloane Crosley

    Sloane Crosley

    Sloane Crosley is the author of The New York Times bestselling essay collections, I Was Told There'd Be Cake, a finalist for The Thurber Prize for American Humor, and How Did You Get This Number, as well as Look Alive Out ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    November Storm

    Try:
    I Was Told There'd Be Cake
    by Sloane Crosley

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