Monday, April 29, 2013

What is Janice Steinberg reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Janice Steinberg, author of The Tin Horse.

Her entry begins:
The Lotus Eaters is one of those books that makes me glad there are still at least a few bookstores where one can browse and touch. Somehow this novel by Tatjana Soli escaped my notice when it came out in 2010; I missed the raves in the New York Times and elsewhere. But I spotted it in Warwick’s in La Jolla and was drawn by the cover photograph: a limpid bay that, close in, is tightly packed with fishing boats, but further out loses definition; water and sky dissolve into a dreamlike mist. Similarly, Soli’s story offers both richly detailed everyday reality and the sense of entering a dream.

The Lotus Eaters takes place in Vietnam during the American military involvement there, from the mid-1960s through the fall of Saigon in 1975. Helen Adams goes there in 1965 as a freelance photojournalist, though she’s such a novice that initially she has to ask for help loading film into her fancy new camera. Shortly after she arrives, she gets involved with an older, experienced photographer, Sam Darrow. The attraction is sexual, but...[read on]
About The Tin Horse, from the publisher:
In the stunning tradition of Lisa See, Maeve Binchy, and Alice Hoffman, The Tin Horse is a rich multigenerational story about the intense, often fraught bond sisters share and the dreams and sorrows that lay at the heart of the immigrant experience.

It has been more than sixty years since Elaine Greenstein’s twin sister, Barbara, ran away, cutting off contact with her family forever. Elaine has made peace with that loss. But while sifting through old papers as she prepares to move to Rancho MaƱana—or the “Ranch of No Tomorrow” as she refers to the retirement community—she is stunned to find a possible hint to Barbara’s whereabouts all these years later. And it pushes her to confront the fierce love and bitter rivalry of their youth during the 1920s and ’30s, in the Los Angeles Jewish neighborhood of Boyle Heights.

Though raised together in Boyle Heights, where kosher delis and storefront signs in Yiddish lined the streets, Elaine and Barbara staked out very different personal territories. Elaine was thoughtful and studious, encouraged to dream of going to college, while Barbara was a bold rule-breaker whose hopes fastened on nearby Hollywood. In the fall of 1939, when the girls were eighteen, Barbara’s recklessness took an alarming turn. Leaving only a cryptic note, she disappeared.

In an unforgettable voice layered with humor and insight, Elaine delves into the past. She recalls growing up with her spirited family: her luftmensch of a grandfather, a former tinsmith with tales from the Old Country; her papa, who preaches the American Dream even as it eludes him; her mercurial mother, whose secret grief colors her moods—and of course audacious Barbara and their younger sisters, Audrey and Harriet. As Elaine looks back on the momentous events of history and on the personal dramas of the Greenstein clan, she must finally face the truth of her own childhood, and that of the twin sister she once knew.

In The Tin Horse, Janice Steinberg exquisitely unfolds a rich multigenerational story about the intense, often fraught bonds between sisters, mothers, and daughters and the profound and surprising ways we are shaped by those we love. At its core, it is a book not only about the stories we tell but, more important, those we believe, especially the ones about our very selves.
Learn more about the book and author at Janice Steinberg's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Tin Horse.

Writers Read: Janice Steinberg.

--Marshal Zeringue