Summary and book reviews of Truthtelling by Lynne Schwartz

Truthtelling

Stories, Fables, Glimpses

by Lynne Schwartz

Truthtelling by Lynne Schwartz X
Truthtelling by Lynne Schwartz
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  • Published:
    Oct 2020, 224 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Erin Lyndal Martin
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About this Book

Book Summary

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 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 his 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.

This is the full text of A Taste of Dust

A Taste of Dust

Driving up from the city, Violet had imagined the house was substantial, but hadn't envisioned this bay-windowed, white mansion in miniature set far back from the curving suburban street. Large elms shaded the lawn; the hedges were expertly trimmed; too late for many flowers in October, but lots of shrubs. Definitely a hired gardener, or else Cindy had an unusually green thumb. Little in that line could be expected of Seth, unless he'd changed drastically and become a devotee of the Home Depot in the mall a few miles back. An SUV loomed in the broad driveway; she pulled up behind it. There would be a dog too, she guessed, a big one. Any minute it might come bounding across the lawn. She steeled herself. She'd pat it and not shrink from the paws clawing at her slate-blue silk suit, bought especially for the occasion, to show off her undefeated body and long legs.

An instant after she rang, as if he'd been waiting behind the ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Through their discomfort, Schwartz's characters become uncannily relatable, even if they're not always likable. The writer deftly distills this complexity into stories told in a matter-of-fact style that's never showy or self-indulgent. This book will appeal to readers across numerous demographics. Schwartz offers compelling stories of unflinching candor, ultimately helping readers feel less alone with their shortcomings...continued

Full Review (685 words).

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(Reviewed by Erin Lyndal Martin).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
[M]eticulously crafted... This first-rate collection demonstrates why Schwartz remains an American literary treasure.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
A grab bag of realist and experimental stories, each one a treasure...Though the situations are unbelievable, the emotions are not. Wise, wry, and witty—theses stories in all their stylistic variations are perfect.

Author Blurb Vivian Gornick, author of Fierce Attachments: A Memoir
This excellent writer has the great gift of making even the slightest of domestic situations feel richly alive to the pleasures we allow and the punishments we inflict on ourselves and one another.It is a joy to read this latest collection of her short fictions.

Author Blurb Hilma Wolitzer, author of Hearts
These wonderful stories about our need for connection and our sense of alienation are timely and timeless at once. Lynne Sharon Schwartz is a dazzling writer.

Author Blurb Alix Kates Shulman, author of Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen
This elegant new collection includes some of Schwartz’s most surprising and satisfying short works, demonstrating anew her sustained powers as a writer, through an astonishing 28 books and 40 years.

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Beyond the Book

The Apple in Religion and Myth

Side by side paintings of nude Adam and Eve holding apples by Albrecht DurerThe unnamed mother in Lynne Sharon Schwartz's story "Apples" rejoices when her picky daughter delights in a new kind of apple that makes her "elated and energetic and enthusiastic." The mother is so impressed she mentions to the pediatrician that the apple might be magical.

This character is certainly not the first to attribute supernatural properties to an apple. Though there are thousands of types of fruit in the world, apples are by far the most featured in myth and folklore. They've been thought to do everything from blessing a New Year to bringing about the fall of man.

Of course, the most infamous apple is the one Eve eats in the Bible's book of Genesis. While the forbidden fruit may or may not have actually been an apple, the...

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