I have been looking into schedules. Even when we read physics, we inquire of each least particle, What then shall I do this morning? How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.

On the first of each month,
a guest writer
how he or she spends the day.


November 1, 2016: Amy Gottlieb

Lately I’ve been having a hard time finishing the books I start, but that was not the case for Amy Gottlieb’s debut novel, The Beautiful Possible, one of those novels where you fall into another world and remain there until the last page.

At night my parents would sit on the sofa in my father’s study and listen to records. Fly me to the moon, sang Frank. Dance me to the end of love, sang Leonard. I say a little prayer, sang Dionne. I would spy them studying the liner notes as if the lyrics were sacred texts, yet something about their marriage always eluded me. Our house was a palace of stories–the ancient ones in the books, the love stories in the songs, the secrets my mother whispered into the phone late at night. At times, I would drift off to sleep and imagine how all the stories were part of one great book that hummed with sadness and longing.

img_3830This is not a book about being alone; it’s a book about relationships–Walter and Sonia, Walter and Sol, Sol and Rosalie, and Rosalie and Walter. Each shift in point of view is flawless, and each storyline is equally fascinating.

Sol and Rosalie leave before dessert is served. It is always as it was, she thinks. I love him no less. Walter is a dream, a figment, a palace gate that will soon be closed. I will be a mother and a grandmother and the secret of these weeks will resound in my bones as private music that only I will be able to hear.

Not only does the story draw the reader in, but also the language.

Walter maps her gaze. He can tell when her thoughts careen into a private fog, and he waits until she finds her way back.

And here’s what happens when story intersects with language.

Throughout his life, he will leave out the details but will say, I followed a man wearing a brown felt hat and ended up alone in Bombay.

Early in her writing life, Amy connected with Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, as you can see she might from this description of her family.

I had a grandmother who forgot the meaning of words, a grandfather whose homemade borscht turned a mystical shade of red, and a cousin who predicted the exact moment I would arrive at her village in southern France, unannounced…

After putting her first attempt at a novel in a drawer, Amy spent ten years writing The Beautiful Possible, which began with an exploration of the idea of how a story gets passed down from generation to generation after a trauma.

Amy’s fiction and poetry have appeared in Lilith, Puerto del Sol, Other Voices, Storyscape, Zeek, The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish Poetry, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a Literary Fellowship and Residency from the Bronx Council on the Arts and an Arts Fellowship from the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education. She lives in New York with her husband and two sons.

Come back on NOVEMBER 1st to read how AMY GOTTLIEB spends her days.