Works

Novels


When We Argued All Night
Placing imaginary people in real situations, When We Argued All Night asks how people manage to be friends, how they endure the people they love, and how any of us can make sense of history.

In 1930, Artie Saltzman and Harold Abramovitz, Jewish young men from Brooklyn, attend a Communist rally in Union Square. Artie hopes to photograph it; Harold is curious. A riot breaks out and the police smash Artie’s camera and many people’s heads. Through decades of experiences that are sometimes startling now, sometimes all too familiar, Artie and Harold and their families live their lives.

Harold reads news stories about the Nazis’ treatment of the Jews, and is horrified when he finds himself using the stories to get the attention of women. He joins the Communist Party in the thirties; in the fifties, his and Artie’s jobs as New York City schoolteachers are threatened because of their past lefty connections. In the years of the Vietnam war, Artie’s daughter Brenda struggles with her own insecurities as well as anti-war feeling. When Harold is an old man, a book he writes has a surprising fate involving a rising politician, Barack Obama. What endures are friendship, family, and love. When We Argued All Night presents in telling detail characters who are sometimes tragic and sometimes comic, but always both lovable and flawed—that is, human.


Nothing Is Quite Forgotten In Brooklyn
In episodes that move back and forth in time, Nothing Is Quite Forgotten In Brooklyn recounts two weeks, fourteen years apart, in Constance Tepper’s life. In the first, she is stuck alone in her mother’s empty apartment -- and everything changes. In the second she experiences the painful pleasures of discovery.

The Wedding of the Two-Headed Woman
Daisy Andalusia thinks, “I didn’t love him, I wasn’t going to love him, and therefore I was free and in charge. What I like is power. Who doesn’t? But if it was that good—if I was that free—I didn’t need to stop at five sexual encounters, did I?”

The Book Borrower
The Book Borrower tells the story of two women’s tempestuous, decades-long friendship, and intersperses the text of the book one borrows from the other, Trolley Girl, a memoir of a nineteen-twenties trolley strike. An unexpected connection between the two stories suggests that art -- and especially books -- can rescue our lives.

Hilda and Pearl
Hilda and Pearl begins during the McCarthy era, as a New York child tries to make sense of her family’s secrets, tensions, and intense bonds; it then moves back to the nineteen-thirties, depicting the events that made those strong-willed, passionate grownups the people they are.

In Case We’re Separated
In each of the thirteen stories of In Case We’re Separated—which follow a Jewish-American family as its members grow up and grow old—there is a glass of water, a cord, a mouth, a sharp point, an exchange, and a map that may be wrong.

Memoir, essays, story
"Not Telling"
A "Draft" column from the New York Times website about writing novels


"Tillie Olsen and the Writing of Fiction"
This essay appears on two websites, Bloom and The Millions

Bloom

The Millions


Memoir

"Drowning the Children"

A personal essay about writing despite interruptions

"Fever"

An essay about junior high school during the McCarthy era


Short Story

"Brooklyn Circle"

a modified excerpt from the novel Nothing Is Quite Forgotten in Brooklyn