My Interview With Stephanie Bedford for The Capital Times

CapTimes

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Here’s my interview with Stephanie Bedford of The Capital Times appearing just a week before the Wisconsin Book Festival. The timing is perfect.

EVP Coffee

We actually chatted a few months ago at our local EVP coffee house. Being a fiction writer herself, Stephanie and I got into wonderful conversations about fiction, about being a mother and a writer, about being an introverted person who suddenly moves into the public domain.

What I am discovering about this last issue is that I LOVE being with and talking to readers. It’s an intimate act to share a book with someone, an act that is almost like sharing a secret. It creates a bond.

Washington Island Literature Festival
Washington Island Literature Festival

Now that I’m on the road and meeting more readers of TCOL, I’m quite humbled by their astute questions and observations not only about my book, but about life. I shouldn’t be surprised. Don’t books provoke us into thinking about all sorts of things—including our own lives?

If you’d like to read the details of my Cap Times interview, please click here:http://host.madison.com/entertainment/arts_and_theatre/madison-poet-s-debut-novel-is-engaging-unconventional/article_583ab0ee-9c48-57aa-8461-5add81dbfdcd.html



My Social Media Dilemma

 

Right from the start of my writing life I fell into the habit of writing everything out in long-hand on a yellow legal pad using a black Pilot pen. This was the ritual: I’d make a pot of tea (my favorite is Pai Mu Tan), grab my legal pad and pen and in slippers and robe tread the short distance through the garage—past garbage cans, rakes, shovels and bikes—to my writing studio. The brief jaunt represented crossing a threshold, shedding my domestic for my creative self.snoopy

Without glancing at my dark computer screen, I’d nestle on the bed by the window and stare into the arms of a dogwood or the yard beyond, where summer or winter if I was up early enough, I might catch a glimpse of some ever-busy bird. The literal closing of one door and the opening of another activated the genies of thoughtfulness and introspection…and soon my pen would move across the page.

When I say “ritual,” I’m not kidding. If I understand the word correctly, it means “A detailed method of procedure faithfully or regularly followed,” or ceremonies or rites used in a place of worship. The word “ritual” comes from the Latin ritus meaning “rite.”

diane-ackermanDameEdithSitwellsm-My own rite developed spontaneously and without effort and has more or less remained intact for decades. I’m not the only writer to have such rituals. In her book A Natural History of the Senses, in a section called “Courting the Muse,” Diane Ackerman describes the wacky, oddball compulsions of a number of artists and writers. I can’t remember which historical genius—I think it was the poet Schiller— who kept rotten apples under the lid of his desk and sniffed them when he wanted to find the right word or D.H. Lawrence who sat naked mulberry trees to write. Dame Edith Sitwell wrote sitting in a coffin, which might actually be cushy depending on the coffin. Writing is a hard and deliberate labor and a good dose of magical thinking and weird behavior often accompanies the process. But I’m convinced these strange totem acts are not opposed to logic but its ally.

My ritual is pretty tame in comparison. I do admit to crushing stalks of lavender from my garden and inhaling the fragrance. I do admit to collecting rocks and feathers and geodes, which I keep near my writing desk, but really, in all my years of writing not much of my ritual has changed. I still walk from the house through the garage into my studio where stillness prevails. I still write on a legal pad with a Pilot pen.  Except… except… my writing trance is interrupted or delayed these days by the necessity of attending to social media.

arab springSocial media. How well I understand its culture-altering importance. Isn’t Facebook credited with enabling the Arab Spring revolutions by breaking through geographical, political, and social isolation, and doesn’t it work just as well for establishing friendships, intimacies even, among strangers? If a lonely boy in Tibet finds a lonely girl in Bejing, if a Tunisian woman finds an advocate group in Nepal, I’m all for it. And I certainly understand and am the beneficiary of Facebook and Goodreads sites that keep me in touch with readers all over the country, all over the world actually, to which I say AMEN.

In fact, one of the very best aspects of becoming a known author is my connection to readers. It’s moving and exhilarating to walk into a book group that’s read my novel and hear, “Mern was MY mother!” Or, “Mern was MY sister.” I know I’ve done something right as a novelist when my characters touch on some universal aspects of human nature. One of the reasons to tell a story is to link one human heart to another. How would we know anything about each other, our sorrows and joys and wisdoms, without stories?

My social media dilemma is that while I LOVE the ability to have virtual chats with readers and to meet other writers and to let folks know about upcoming events, it takes time to be on several media platforms, and time is what presses on a writer like me whose vision and language come slowly to the page.

toetemThe other issue with social media is that I’m squeamish about the business of asking for “likes.” Though I don’t completely understand why it is important to have a lot of them (ego aside), I do know that for authors, the more “likes” the better. Which is why you’ll understand when I ask at the end of this sentence, that if you feel inclined, to please “like” me on Facebook and share your thoughts on my Goodreads page. Despite my hesitation about social media, I embrace it because I want to stay in touch and engage with readers. Maybe I’ll just have to invent a new ritual to help me transition into my social media brain. Hmmm—what would that be? Shake a medicine rattle a hundred times? Do a dervish dance while beating my Taos drum? Please feel free to share your rituals for conjuring the muse. I really am curious.

likeimage

 



The Dark Side of the 50’s, Suffering, and a Writer’s Education: Marshal Zeringue’s The Page 69 Test

Marshal McLuhan, last century’s great communication theorist, declared that if you turn to page 69 in a book and like it, you’ll like the entire book. It’s a fascinating concept, one Marshal Zeringue has used for his blog called The Page 69 Test.Mccluhan

Happily and gratefully, I’m one of the writers Marshal Z invited to contribute to his site. Happily and gratefully, I returned to page 69 of TCOL and learned something new about my own novel. I call this “a writer’s hindsight education.”

How could it be that after years spent writing a book, after the drafts and gazillion discussions with friends and editors, I’m just now finding new revelations in the work? The experience is not dissimilar to picking up an old dream journal, rereading a dream, and understanding them at a deeper level: the meaning of the text keeps unfolding and amplifying over time.

Some of my post-publication education has also come via the astute questions and observations of readers and reviewers. At a book group discussing my novel, I was amazed by a fervent debate among participants concerning why Eunice, the book’s protagonist, decided to leave home. An eavesdropper might have mistaken the conversation (to which I was only a witness) for a heated round of gossip instead of a discussion about literary characters! One of the pleasures of being a reader among readers, of being in a book group is precisely this opportunity to exchange of ideas and opinions, to try-on theories and to engage in an investigation about human nature. That night, after the group, I went home and re-examined what I had actually written.

horatioBut getting back to a writer’s hindsight, this makes perfect sense to me since one of the engines that fuels the creative process is the unconscious mind. We may think we know why we are writing something, but the unconscious mind, often in its trickster mode, contributes in subtle ways to the resonance and archetypal dimension of the work.

For instance, I very consciously set the novel in the fifties and did lots of research on that period, especially on popular culture. But it’s only now I see that I was also writing about the dark side of the fifties— its repressive gender and racial attitudes, its propagation of the rags-to-riches Horatio Alger myth, its stifling of women’s creative lives. algerbookThe Eisenhower years were a strange combination of hail-fellow-well-met optimism and rolling paranoia.

 

fifiescropped Mr. Tabachnik, a refugee from Eastern Europe, most concretely embodies the horror that was World War II. Only a few years before the novel begins, Americans saw the first pictures of the camps, starved prisoners in their striped pajamas that haunted our collective psyche. We hadn’t yet digested the scale of the holocaust or our role in dropping the atomic bomb or finished grieving our own war dead.

bomb-1 We believed most heartily that science and technology would usher us into a new and prosperous utopia. Our suffering was invisible to us.

(Pico Iyer has written a very moving piece in the Times yesterday called The Value of Suffering. He too addresses the collective/cultural aspect of grief. I take his words, “to survive is to make sense of suffering” as a mantra for the times.)

My character, Mr Tabachnik, is a student of suffering. I mention Mr. T. in my piece for The Page 69 Test. Mr. T is my hero and his declaration, “From the terrible beauty comes” is another piece of wisdom I didn’t know I knew. When those words first fell from Mr. T’s mouth, I was astonished. It would seem I put those words into his mouth, but the truth is that until he said them, I didn’t know I believed them too.

 

 

 

 



Great review in The Rumpus

Eunice, Mernie, Rose, Fox, Sam and the rest are over-the-moon happy about this fantastic new review by Kevin O’Kelly in the August 20th edition of The Rumpus. Stay tuned for more on my thoughts about his in-depth reading of the book, its mythical aspects and the power of names.

Would love to have your comments!

http://therumpus.net/2013/08/the-conditions-of-love-by-dale-kushner/



My post on Marshal Zeringue’s Blog Writers Read

1316794888_50_large1Writing my previous entry about Susanna Daniel reminds me that I did a post about what I’m reading several weeks ago for Marshall’s blog. If you’d like to read my thoughts on discovering Alexander Chee’s “hauntingly lyrical” Edinburgh, diving into Adrienne Rich’s “eloquent and empathic” A Human Eye: Essays on Art in Society, 1997-2008, or delving into the depths of The Ability to Mourn: Disillusionment and the Social Origins of Psychoanalysis by Peter Homans, Writers Read is the place to go.



What my new friend Susanna Daniel said on Writers Read about TCOL

Susanna Daniel 320x432I just met the wonderful Susanna Daniel several weeks ago and am completely humbled and delighted by the great things she’s saying about The Conditions of Love.  I haven’t had a chance to read her just released second novel, Sea Creatures, but when I do I’m sure you’ll hear from me about it.

Susanna kindly included The Conditions of Love among the books she cited on Marshall Zeringue’s delightful Writers Read blog:

I’ve just finished Dale M. Kushner’s broad and impressive debut novel, The Conditions of Love, and I’m stunned – stunned – that I’m not hearing about it every time I pick up a newspaper or open a browser. It’s a classic, sweeping story of a girl’s life and the relationships that define her, from birth to old age – exquisitely detailed, finely paced, deliciously ambitious.



It’s Wild!

I was checking out at Whole Foods when I heard a friendly voice yell, “I love your book!” And there was Elizabeth, the checker two aisles down, grinning and waving. How cool is that? How wonderful to be surprised in surprising places by readers. It’s really wild. I took a photo op in the middle of Whole Foods. Here we are, mugging together!

ElizWF



Interview on WORT Public Radio

Rusty RussellI love how people come back into our lives when we least expect them. An old hippie friend used to say: some folks leave their imprints on your aura. Not sure about auras but I love the metaphor. I started The Writer’s Place in Madison in the late nineties and Rusty Russell—of poetry slam fame—was one of the first writers to contact us. In one life he was and is an economist for the Department of Transportation and in another, a poetry wild man. I say this with the utmost respect for writers who are also great performers.

I hadn’t heard from Rusty in years until he recently called me to do an interview with him on Radio Literature. I met him at the old WORT studio—I remembered the funky furniture, posters of Che and Dylan still on the walls. We talked about the writing process, writers as observers, how, as writers, we are constantly trying to balance our domestic and creative selves. I talked about my character, Mr. Tabachnik, and his world-view that “from the terrible beauty comes.” And then I read a short passage from the book. Here’s the link below.

WORT Interview (interview starts at 2:56)



Communing with readers at Arcadia Books

arcadiawindoI’m way overdue reporting on my joyous reading at Arcadia Books in downtown Spring Green, WI on a beautiful Sunday afternoon on June 23. Spring Green is a destination point for Frank Lloyd Wright fans who come to tour his Wisconsin home,Taliesen, and to see the fabulous American Players Theatre repertory company do Shakespeare, Miller, Brecht and other classics, but Arcadia Books should be a destination all on its own.

The store opened in 2011 and I gather is part of a very intriguing trend. Arcadia doesn’t just offer books. It also has a café with a decidedly local flavor. “The Kitchen” features Wisconsin beer and cheese and its pizza even uses locally sourced flour! I love that the chef uses cookbooks from the store to teach “Cook the Book” cooking classes.

John Christensen and Dale crThis should be a model for how local stores can thrive. Little signs dot the store, “Read it here. Buy it here. Keep us here.”  Housed In what was once the Spring Green post office, built in 1872, with high ceilings and big windows, Arcadia has a wonderful small town ambience. The store takes its name from the Tom Stoppard play, a favorite of its owner, James Bohnen, who also frequently directs plays at the nearby American Players Theatre.

In addition to great food, I’m sure one of the reasons Arcadia is such a popular community hangout is the geniality of its manager, John Christensen, who immediately made me feel right at home. He claims that Arcadia has “the best poetry case in the state,” which of course endeared him to me.  arcadiaaudienceIt was so sweet to see the reading room fill with interested, animated locals, coming to hear me read when they could be anywhere else on such a sunny afternoon. These were true readers, which I came to appreciate as they peppered me with questions. One that really made me think was something like “How did I deal with an editor’s suggestion to revise or cut material?” I responded truthfully: for every cut or revision I asked myself, Will this add to or diminish from the integrity of the whole? How does the editor’s vision line up with mine? Some of my decisions came easily, I realized, but to address some queries I had to shift things around before I was satisfied.

ArcJim_neilI owe a lot to readers like this one who help me understand my own process in hindsight. My gratitude to such thoughtful folks and their beguiling curiosities.  But back to Arcadia Books! If you happen to be near Spring Green, be sure to put it on your list of places to visit.



One of the Ten “Best Damn Books of 2013 (So Far)”

Cortnee Howard mosaicCortnee Howard is the creator of the irreverent and infectiously addictive literary blog, The Best Damn Creative Writing Blog, where she has been interviewing authors, reporting on publishing news, and reviewing new works of fiction for some five years now. Recently, she compiled her list of “The Best Damn Books of 2013 (So Far)” and I’m thrilled and honored that she selected The Conditions of Love to be one of them. Thanks, Cortnee! And what a great crew to be part of. Now I’m eager to read my nine damn buddies.



Books That Changed My Life

What a task! Choose three books that changed your life. That’s what Jeanne Kolker from the State Journal wanted from me. It was hard. The three I chose were The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank; On Lies, Secrets, and Silence by Adrienne Rich; and The Lover by Marguerite Duras. You can read why I chose them in WSJ’s “Just Read It” Sunday column.

But before I was a reader, I was a listener; I was a little girl with a vivid imagination and a penchant for fairy tales. The horrible, beautiful, compelling pitch of Claire Bloom’s voice reading Snow White is still in my ears. Likewise, I can still hear the tremulous narrator of Peter and The Wolf. These were on old vinyl records my mother played for me. I’m musing now—did these enchanting introductions to story and voice and to the musical sounds of words give birth to my writer-self? How I became a writer is still a mystery to me!

What books changed your life?



Being interviewed

The thing about being interviewed is that it IS all about you, which takes some getting used to! But now that I’ve been interviewed by two skillful, thought-provoking radio talk show hostsI’m looking at you Anne Strainchamps and Stephanie LecciI’m accumulating a list of WHY I ENJOY BEING INTERVIEWED.

Of course, it starts with the interviewers. When Anne asked me at the top of our 45-minute chat for 45 North, “what’s your book about?” I had to laugh. How could I possibly condense everything into a short sound bite. But, you know, it’s good to be asked to focus on what the story is and what was it that kept me wanting to return to these characters every day for so many years.

Stephanie had many great questions as well. When she asked me whether Eunice learns how to deal with loss – well, that just reminded me what’s so great about novels. You get to spend time with the characters and see how they change over time. In the third section, I believe that Eunice learns how not to get stuck in the pastshe finds how to cultivate things that bring her joy. And I realized that I didn’t know it was going to turn out that way when I began. And that’s what great about writing novels.

But the best part of being interviewed is that these two incredibly perceptive readers connected me with a whole universe of other readers who I suspect—and hope–will see some of themselves in my story. Most of us write because we have a story to tell. That story, however personal or fabricated, emerges from our shared human experience. Mother troubles, love-life dilemmas, accidents, illness: my story is also your story in a slightly different version—is also her story, his story, their story.

Writers may work in solitude, but we are connected by invisible means to the pulse beat of humanity. Being interviewed has put me in touch with just how true this is. After one interview, a usually reserved and private woman approached me and whispered, “That happened to me too.” This is what most fiction writers live to hear: how our imaginations have created a world so rich and complicated it feels like real life.

If you haven’t read the book, I’m hoping you’ll hear something in these interviews to make you want to give TCOL a spin. And if you have read it, I’m curious whether your takeaways in any way resemble mine. In any event, take a listen and let me know what you think.

My interview with Anne Strainchamps on 45 North —  June 14, 2013

My interview with Stephanie Lecci for Lake Effect WPR (WUWM) — June 28, 2013 

 

 



Jersey Girl on Book Tour

Short history of a writer: Began as a Jersey girl who left at 17 for university and fell in love with my best-and-always boyfriend. Grew to love the Midwest’s wide prairies and kind ways. But put me back on the East Coast and my heart chants home, home, home!

The landscapes of childhood are in us forever. The ancient oaks, the sea wind off the Atlantic, the Palisades: I remember I remember… in reverence and reverie.


On May 28th, we flew from Madison to LaGuardia with nary a predicted thunderstorm to mar our flight. Then a cab to our friends Liz and David’s glorious Soho digs. A thrilling new era had begun in the life of Dale M.

Next day, Jen, John, Jess and Troy, B and moi head to Katz’s deli (with a stop at the oldest pizzeria in NY) for pastrami on rye. Oi, the tumult! I’d forgotten. Oh, lost land of my youth!


NYMaryJaegerJPGSaturday evening: Here I am on 20th Street (thank you Mary Jaeger!) for designing this gorgeous shawl) on my way to the big book launch party.

So many cherished friends arrive, including my great Grand Central team and adored agent, Gail Hochman. Humbled by the realization that my book brings us together. A blessed thing!


NYfeastThe feast prepared by dear hosts Annie and Peter is sumptuously elegant. Foodies cry your eyes out. The toothpicks are from Paris.
 
 


nan and Dale
With Nan Satter
Wednesday: moving day. I have Nan Gatewood Satter to thank for setting up the book group at Merrill’s, my first experience of readers discussing characters I’ve lived with for years as though they’re real people. Books as Rorschach.

A late night run dragging my overstuffed suitcase (I swear I WILL learn how to pack more efficiently) to Port Authority and a bus ride to New Paltz.


Huegonots
Huguenot Street Cemetery
Readings and signings at Inquiring Minds in New Paltz and The Golden Notebook in Woodstock. More old friends show up. How have they heard? Answering thoughtful questions from the audiences makes me wiser about what I’ve written. I’m learning about what I wrote in hindsight. The process of unpacking the themes in TCOL continues. Writing as revelation!


Here’s to the joy of making new friends.

Nantepper
With Nan Tepper at The Golden Notebook
GoldenNote


“A divine understanding of the ties that bind” — syndicated love from EDGE

Have you ever heard of syndicated love? EDGE is this company based in Boston that has websites dedicated to cities all around the country– Miami, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, and 13 other cities. Kitty Drexel, one of EDGE’s book reviewers, wrote this spectacular review of The Conditions of Love a few days ago and it’s now posted on all of these 21 sites. Talk about getting the word around. Who knew this kind of phenomenon existed? Here’s my favorite part:

Kushner has a divine understanding of the ties that bind people in relationships. The Conditions of Love is rife with truths about man’s equally selfish and selfless need to experience love in its many forms. Eunice might be the central player, but the hero of this tale is Love. Eunice experiences many kinds of loss. Before and after each misadventure she seeks solace in the stable relationships of her past and present: Mr. Tabachnik, a kind neighbor; her adopted guardian, Rose; Sam, a misguided role model. Although she may often be lonely, Eunice does not experience the destitution of abandonment.

 

Kushner’s writing consists of equal parts reverence for the human condition and sympathy for the pain that is a necessary part of that condition. This novel is an engrossing read and difficult to put down.

You can read the entire review here. .



“Feeling the love” — field notes from my first three readings

Dale outside Boswell's w big book coverI’m just cooling down from a heady week of book launch readings, my first opportunity to meet new and interested readers. Each event had its own special vibe and each presented an opportunity for me to understand more about what readers hunger for:  a community, real or virtual, where they can discuss ideas, books, writing.

At Boswell’s in Milwaukee the crowd was pensive and curious, attentive to the two debut authors, Andrea Lochen and me. Dale and DanielThe owner Daniel Goldin stood at the ready, his infectious enthusiasm for all things literary infusing the air. One of the first questions asked in the Q & A, a question asked at each of my readings, was about finding an agent and getting published. I suspect folks assume I have a magic bullet answer, but alas, we all know finding the right agent is like finding the right partner in life — only in this case,  the agent falls in love with your work and not you!

Dale reading in Madison crThe Madison book launch at A Room of One’s Own — and the party following — were spectacular. I was blown away by the sheer number of people who showed up, maybe over 120, the room filled to standing room only. Oh what a night! Joy and celebration! And so much love in the room! I channeled Eunice, Mern, and company, their voices coming right through me. But it was really a call and response, the audience silently shouting right back to me their “right ons” and “amens.” Dale signing Kushner Madreading1  #25 LR photo by Kalleen MortensenSo powerful, that wave of love that flows between us and others. Great questions here too: how did the story begin? And of course, how do you find an agent? A brief but interesting discussion on my character’s unusual names and why names are important for what they reveal. Someone asked about research. I told them I hope to be on an AWP panel in 2014 about how writers often have to figure out how to balance hardcore research with imagination.

My third reading was at The Book Stall in Illinois. What a wonder that bookstore is! Everyone will miss the retiring owner and founder, the amazing Roberta Rubin, but I’m sure the store will thrive under its new owner, Stephanie Hochschild.  Dale and Roberta RubinI felt warmly welcomed by the BStall staff, The Conditions of Love proudly on display. Lots of old friends in the audience; some drove almost two hours to get there. This is what touches me . . . the goodness of friendship . . . the desire we have to celebrate each other’s good fortune and the willingness of others to join in. I was definitely feeling the love! In the Q & A, someone asked me about moving from poetry to fiction, and I realize now how much I have to say on this subject. I think I’m not alone in changing genres. An essay is forming in my head!

Now off to NY, more readings, a book group, a special party and who knows what else. Please stand by. Notes from the field will continue



“Stunningly self-assured” says Bookreporter!

Josh Mallory’s long, lovingly detailed, and quite positive review on Bookreporter really knocked me out. It’s quite a thrill to see the story and my characters get this reaction. Here’s some of what Josh wrote:

With her debut novel, THE CONDITIONS OF LOVE, poet Dale M. Kushner has created a layered examination of love in all its forms and how it impacts and shapes one girl in the late 1950s and early 1960s from childhood to maturity.. . .

This is a book that begs to be read slowly. Kushner’s history with poetry serves her well. Her prose causes the reader to slow down and relish the words. She utilizes the five senses throughout the book, which gives the reader a sense of real intimacy with Eunice. She beautifully recounts the physical act of Eunice’s neighbor, Mr. Tabachnik, putting on an opera record, and then she tops it by describing the powerful music washing over a young Eunice.

THE CONDITIONS OF LOVE is an engaging story written in a lyrical style. It’s a stunningly self-assured novel for a debut, and it leaves the reader hoping that Kushner will write a second.

You can read the full review here.



Jeanne Kolker interviews me for the Wisconsin State Journal

On Sunday the Wisconsin State Journal published Jeanne Kolker’s interview with me about The Conditions of Love. Jeanne asked such thoughtful questions. It’s funny. Every time I talk with someone about the book, a differently phrased question seems to open up a new path into the story. I’m thinking of Jeanne’s last question:

SJ: What sort of themes do you think people will pull out of this book?

DK: I guess it’s a bit of a Rorshach, it means something different to every person. The reader co-creates the book in her head. Everyone is interested in love. The novel covers the difficulties of the love with families, it covers friendship, it covers erotic love and devotion. I can’t imagine what life hasn’t been touched by these themes.

You can read the full interview here.



Debbie Haupt interviews me for The Reading Frenzy

I never anticipated how answering questions about The Conditions of Love would send me down paths I hadn’t explored before. Debbie Haupt’s thoughtful and provocative questions in the interview we did for The Reading Frenzy summoned responses that surprised even me. We talked about mentors, Jung, and the difference between poetry and fiction, among other things. Here’s an excerpt:

DH: The Conditions of Love is your debut novel yet you’ve written in other mediums like poetry and short stories.
Would you say that it was a natural progression for you to become a novelist, or was there a particular event or catalyst that led you down this road?
DK: Moving from poetry to fiction might be a natural progression but I’m not sure. For me it was more like moving from a hammock under the stars to a house with a kitchen and bath! By that I mean the inception of poetry seems to require a dreamlike solitude, an emphasis on contemplation but also a wide-focus, associative mind. Poetry is less time-bound than fiction and relies on the sensuous and metaphoric qualities of language and on image. To tell a story, I needed a different kind of language. I needed to work in time and place using the devices of fiction. But I wouldn’t trade the hammock for the house or visa versa.
No single event sent me from one genre to another. I’m still a polymorphous writer!
You can read the full interview here.


“Engrossing to the end,” says AP. And this is just the beginning! Publication day is here!

Here it is publication day and I’m delighted to be able to share with you the splendid review Kendall Weaver wrote for The  Associated Press.

Kushner’s scenes, like her characters, are expertly sketched, vivid and memorable. . . . Engrossing to the end, this is a fine first novel.

Because it’s syndicated, this review has already been picked up by The Washington Post, the Huffington Post, The Miami Herald, and many other newspapers and websites around the country. What a great thing to happen on publication day!

You can read the whole review here.



“From poet to big-time novelist”– interview in Isthmus

I had a wonderful time chatting over coffee with Becky Holmes a week or so ago about The Conditions of Love and my creative process. Isthmus published her piece about our chat last Thursday. I especially like how she found aspects of the story magical: :

The Conditions of Love has a magical quality. Kushner describes it as a fable. Yet this coming-of-age story about a teen girl, Eunice, and her search for love doesn’t seem like a fable at first. There are no anthropomorphic animals, no obvious moral lessons. But a careful reading reveals how Kushner uses elements of fable and myth to cast a spell on her readers, taking them to a place that both is and is not the rural Midwest of the 1950s. , , ,

You can read the entire interview here. But please consider what I say about Facebook already outdated. I can prove it: come like my Facebook Fan Page!



Please check this out.

I’m happy to share this with you. Please check out Fifth Wednesday. It’s a great journal.

http://fifthwednesdayjournal.org/news/kushner.shtml



My Essay in The Nervous Breakdown

I’ve been thinking for some time about female role models and am delighted The Nervous Breakdown published this piece.


From a reader

Jodi Cohen—writer, performer of original work and improv queen extraordinaire shared these thoughts with me after reading a galley of The Conditions of Love. These are the kind of comments every writer hopes for. What are we doing, as writers, if not trying to convey the individual and universal predicaments of human life? When a reader says about one of your characters, Me, too, we know by way of empathy and imagination we got it right!

So, Jodi, here’s a public thank you for YOUR words posted below.

grace paley has always hands down across the board been my favorite writer. you are now sharing that spot with her.

your book is so delicious. makes me fall in love with language.

i want to underline the parts i love, but it would all be underlined.

so much poetry. so much detail that is poignant, startling.

i love these characters–in all their glory, with all their flaws. the language. the turtle. Mr T.

AND, more formally, for a review

What a world Dale Kushner has created. Words don’t seem adequate to express such large, surround-sound feelings. I fell in love with this book, the story, the poetry on every page. I inhaled the book and felt like I spent these last days in nature, seeing and experiencing everything up close, my senses awakened, doused, indulged.

These characters were powerful–their flaws and their magnificence. How well and accurately Dale captured how we are all broken, and broken open, full of texture and dimension, so much of which is unseen to the eye and yet felt so deeply.

What a constellation I had access to, filled with these brilliant people, collages, all of them.

This book filled every chamber of my heart and made me fall in love with language all over again, made me want to write because I could suddenly hear my own inner songs. The Conditions of Love breathed new, good life into my lungs and under my skin.

What I want more than anything, as a reader, is to experience a story in a way that causes the inner plates to shift. This book did that. I am forever humbled, grateful.



A Conversation with Dale M. Kushner, author of THE CONDITIONS OF LOVE

Q: THE CONDITIONS OF LOVE is your first novel.  Did you always know you wanted to write?  What made this moment right for your debut?

A: I never thought of becoming a writer until after I was married and had children, but I’d read voraciously as a child and reading saved my life. Luckily, I lived in a house filled with books, a strange mixture of highbrow and lowbrow stuff. We also had a set of World Book encyclopedias given to us by a wealthy cousin, which I pored over. Many writers, myself included, attached themselves to books early on, but not every ferocious reader becomes a writer. One of the things that probably contributes to the transformation from reader to writer is the presence of an inner pressure that seeks expression in language. I think it’s the unsayable demanding to be said. When I acknowledged this demanding spirit, I signed up for an MFA in poetry. Some time after I graduated, I realized I needed a more expansive format than lyric poetry and turned to fiction.  Continue reading…



Interview: “Art and Psyche with Dr. Michael Conforti”

I was Dr Michael Conforti’s guest on “Art and Psyche”, January 6, 2010. Click on the audio button below to listen to the discussion.

Listen to internet radio with Notes from the Field on Blog Talk Radio

 



Mystery: The Secret House of Our Longings

In the spring of 2010, I was honored to participate in The Fetzer Institute’s First Writers’ Retreat. For six days, among the birch and pine on the Institute glorious property, fifteen writers from across the country met daily to discuss how compassion, love, and forgiveness were part of our creative process as we explored “the mysterious juncture between individual and community transformation.”   Continue reading…



Published in the Balkans!

My poetry collection, Another Kingdom, was published in the Balkans. Stay tuned for the story and poems.



Author Profile in the Kalamazoo Gazette, October 25, 2009

The Kalamazoo Gazette ran a profile on me in October, 2009. I was the featured guest at “Poetry Feast: A Writer’s Place” at the Kalamazoo Public Library.

Link: Kalamazoo Gazette