An Alternative Author Interview:
TCL’s Countdown Questions.
This week, featuring author
I discovered Mary Glickman’s historical fiction work via the wonderful NetGally. Admittedly, I was curious and a bit wary of these books because they sounded like there were Jewish themes, and Mary isn’t a very Jewish name, yet Glickman could very well be! See, I’ve been burnt too many times reading fictional works that touch on Jewish subjects that contain horrendous errors. Not so with Mary, who is actually Jewish. So far, I’ve read and enjoyed two of Mary’s novels – “An Undisturbed Peace” and “Marching to Zion,” neither of which are exclusively Jewish historical fiction books, since they are also filled with very American themes. I was lucky enough to meet Mary in person, and in fact host her at my home in Jerusalem, when she was on a research trip! How cool is that, right? Here are Mary’s answers.
- If you could visit five (5) places you’ve never been, where would you go and why?
Five is an awful lot of destinations! I confess part of me is traveled out. The idea of travel is not terribly exciting to me anymore. I lived in Europe twice in my life. Once in my early twenties in Lyon, France and then again twenty years later in the south of Spain. Both experiences were invaluable and helped make me who I am, but to uproot myself again, adjust to a new culture, etc.? Only for Jerusalem – my favorite city in the world entire – would I go to the trouble! People imagine it’s fun and exciting to live outside their birth country and I suppose on one level it is, but it’s also very hard. Nothing one reads in books about living a new place is entirely accurate and sometimes advance information is mostly false.
But the question was visit, wasn’t it? Vienna might be interesting for its old world ambiance and little Mozarts on every other street corner hawking concert tickets. Oh, and the pastry, can’t forget the pastry. I’d love to visit Sydney but only under the guidance of my dear friend who hails from there and pretty much, only because she’s visited me so many times I feel I owe it to her. Nearer home, I’ve never been to Nashville or Memphis or Austin and with my musical interests in Americana, bluegrass, and the blues, that’s sort of a shonda (Yiddish for shame), especially as I live so close to them nowadays. But honestly, against all expectation and experience, I’ve become a home body.
However, I’m married to a man who still has wanderlust. Stephen would love to visit his ancestral mountain village in Transylvania, various minor Greek islands in which he’s taken an academic interest, India, etc. etc. He may drag me to some of these yet. But for me? If I must, I’d rather visit the places I’ve been before. There are places I missed while in Ireland, England, Spain, France, Italy, Scandinavia, and Israel. If I must leave my island, my marsh, my darling cats who are so devoted to me, then only visiting my friends in those places and discovering new destinations with them would be worth the trip.
- Name four (4) foods or dishes that you enjoy so much that they’ve practically become part of your personality.
Another tough question. Does this mean foods I actually eat or foods I dream of but rarely dare consume? The former brands me as an American straight away! Medium rare hamburgers, cheese, and chips would be right up there! Salmon twice a week to make up for the hamburger, cheese, and chips. Is wine a food? Because wine, definitely, is on my list. Can’t imagine a day without red wine. I live in the Deep South so really, fried anything. And these are the foods I dare eat! Ones I try to eat infrequently or on special occasions would be pastas, fresh crunchy baguettes, thick juicy steaks, anything with a delicious buttery, savory sauce, any kind of potato. My husband always says I should write a cookbook: 1,001 Ways to Cook a Potato, but then my bloodlines are Irish and Polish. It’s not a stretch.
- There is the past, the present, and the future – if you could choose, which of these three (3) would you prefer to live in, and why?
The present definitely. The future, especially these days, looks grim. I’m glad I’m too old to see the worst of what’s to come. I know that sounds bleak, but I’ve felt this way for decades. Thirty years ago, when I mentioned to a friend of mine that I was glad I’d not been blessed with children because I would never stop fretting about a future I saw as hopeless, she replied: “But how do you know the next generation won’t be the one to change things?” That gave me pause. Still, better the devil you know and all that.
The past does have its charms, though. My sensibilities are more fin de siècle and first half of the 20th century than they are modern. But to live without television, computers, electricity and functional plumbing queers the deal. Philosophies be damned! Give me creature comfort!
- Best and worst – you choose which – name two (2) of either your best moments of your life, worst moments of your life, or one of each.
My goodness, Chocolate Lady, you do know how to make a girl scratch her head! In the interest of candor, I’m going to leave professional accomplishments aside here, and go for the heart.
The worst moment of my life so far was the day Stephen called from the office to tell me my best friend had been savagely murdered by person or persons unknown. It’s coming up with a second that’s tough. There are events in life that are so transformative nothing can compare. There is this one horrid, terrible thing and then every other bad thing in a lump. My horrid, terrible thing was Nancy’s murder. It represented for me a loss of innocence, an awakening of existential fear, my greatest grief. Nancy and I were tight as sisters. I miss her still, nearly 40 years later. They say the first tragedy in life is the worst. If one survives it, one will never be quite as devastated again. I can vouch for that. Even the death of my mother which felt like someone reaching into my chest and ripping out a piece of my heart cannot compare.
Now best. I suppose discovering romantic love for the first time was a “best” but as is the case with most first loves, it was also a “worst”. Like every first death, the first love is indelible. Discovering romantic love the second time, with my husband, was the true best. The day we met I had no idea what was to follow. I was intrigued, yes. Excited, yes. But could I ever imagine the marvelous adventure we went on to share? No. Not in the least. To this day, forty-seven years later, I feel extraordinarily blessed that that chance meeting occurred.
Second best had to be the day I met my horse, Hart. There’s something ineffable about a human’s relationship with a large animal, an animal large enough to kill you if he wanted, yet he doesn’t. King of Harts has been in the ground seven years this summer. He passed away at the age of 35 and for 26 of those we were best friends. I miss our hacks through the woods. I miss grooming him. I miss the way he’d race through the pasture towards the gate when he saw my car driving up to the farm. I even miss the way he’d head butt me wherever he wanted, however he wanted and all our little arguments about what direction we’d ride in and at what pace. Sometimes, he really did know better than me. I still dream of him. Jung might call this a “visitation”. I like to think Hart visits me because he misses me too.
- Name one (1) book you’ve read in the past year (or so) that you wish you had written, and why.
Two books come to mind both by the same author, Stefan Zweig. This year I read his Chess Story and Beware of Pity. I’ve been a megafan of Zweig’s for years, ever since I discovered his biography of Balzac, another of my heroes. Within his pages, I found a Balzac I’d not known before which is startling considering how much I’ve studied the man.
Chess Story is Zweig’s last novel, published days before his suicide. It’s a brilliant metaphor for the Nazi ethos that destroyed Zweig’s beloved Europe and indeed, caused his mortal despair. It’s short and brilliantly constructed, not a word out of place. Beware of Pity takes place between the two world wars and recounts the story of a young Austrian cavalry officer who becomes trapped in a complex web of romantic obligation out of pity and guilt over the best of intentions gone tragically wrong. Also brilliant.
What I love about Zweig’s work is a perfection in language, image, mood, and above all, construction. In Beware of Pity, for example, he executes a description of the daily exercise of the hero’s cavalry unit that is so like the experience of galloping a horse through the countryside, I could smell the sweat and excitement. He often employs the convention of delivering a story being told to the narrator by an acquaintance which is much out of use these days but which I always enjoy when I come across it. When I spoke earlier of my sensibilities being more fin de siècle to early 20th century, my love for Zweig is an excellent proof.
(I was so glad we could meet – and in my own home, too! That was a rare treat for me.)
Mary Glickman is the author of four novels, Home in the Morning, National Jewish Book Awards Finalist in Fiction’s One More River, Marching to Zion, and An Undisturbed Peace, listed by Southern Living as a best novel of 2016. Her historical fiction has been Recommended for Great Group Reads of the Women’s National Book Association for whom she has presented her work on numerous occasions.
Her blogs have appeared in the Huffington Post, Medium.com, and the Jewish Book Council’s Prosen People. She was honored by a request to provide an essay on Southern Jewish Literature by the Jewish Book Council for the inaugural issue of its annual literary journal, The Paper Brigade. She has appeared on both television and radio promoting her work. Her print interviews have been featured in Charleston, SC’s Post and Courier, Charleston City Paper, and Southern Jewish Life among other outlets.
Born on the South Shore of Boston, Massachusetts, Mary Glickman studied at the Université de Lyon and Boston University. While she was raised in a strict Irish-Polish Catholic family, from an early age Glickman felt an affinity toward Judaism and converted to the faith when she married. She now lives on Seabrook Island, South Carolina, with her husband, Stephen Glickman, two cats, King George the Mad and William of Orange, and one half of the amazing equine, Lex Luther, although which half, whether front or back, has never been determined.
You can find her official website here.