Author Archive

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Interpretation of an Alligator

by Julie Goldberg

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I wasn’t as surprised as I should have been when I read that Bobbie Baker had come home from work one afternoon to find a five-foot alligator on her doorstep. I should have been as shocked as she was when she poked it with a broomstick, and it flicked one ancient eye open to glare at her. Bobbie’s doorstep is in New Jersey, a thousand miles north of alligator territory.

“I bet I know who did this,” I said, when I glimpsed the headline in the newspaper lying on my sister’s kitchen counter.

“Nobody did anything,” my sister said. “Animal Control said it came from the river. Someone probably got a baby alligator in Florida and dumped it when it got too big. It was looking for a warm spot.”

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Monday, June 9, 2014

Unconvincing

by Julie Goldberg

Eucalypt bark

“Mom, isn’t there something wrong with this diner?”

I spin on the high leatherette counter stool, taking in the mirrored,overlit surfaces, the display case of cheesecakes and baklava, glossy fruit pies and multilayered cakes, the mostly empty booths and tables.“Overdone? Too much?”

“No,” Sylvie murmurs. “Just something… off? I don’t know. Kind of… fake?”

“Inauthentic? Insufficiently Greek? Too shiny?” My guesses are prayers. Please let her be complaining about the decor. Please let her be messing with me.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The People’s MFA (“Werewolves in Their Youth” Edition)

by Julie Goldberg

Plums

I have deep respect for people who have completed a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Devoting two years of full-time study to producing acres of drafts and absorbing what can be painful critique, knowing all the while that there will be no “Help Wanted: MFA-Accredited Novelist” ad to answer at its conclusion, is a glorious achievement. The MFA attests not only to a writer’s profound commitment to the craft, but to an enviable faith in her own talent.

For those of us, however, who lack the money or time, or maybe even the faith, the People’s MFA is an inexpensive, time-tested alternative. Admission is free and open to all, and the professors are the finest in history. Some of them are even still alive.

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Book Review: The Goldfinch

by Julie Goldberg

French antique furniture gold leaf gild

A time-honored axiom among screenwriters and novelists is “Chase your character up a tree and throw rocks at him.” Get your character in a lot of trouble. Complicate and multiply his problems. Don’t grant him an easy way down.

In The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt’s hefty, Dickensian bildungsroman, the Tartt Corollary to the Trees and Rocks Axiom might be “Chase your character up a tree, throw rocks at him, then vaporize the ground beneath the entire forest.” It makes for painful, but compelling reading.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Summer Reading: A Hologram for the King

by Julie Goldberg
I select my vacation books before embarking the way other people pack their outfits: What activities will I be doing, and for how much of the time? What mood will I be in, and what books will suit it? How do I hope to feel while I’m away? And do I have enough room in my suitcase?

But this year’s vacation book, Dave Eggers’ A Hologram for the King, practically fell into my hands at the Brown University Bookstore in Providence, Rhode Island. We’d stopped in Providence on our way up to Cape Cod so that my husband and brother-in-law could show their dad, my kids, and me their favorite college haunts, and the Brown bookstore naturally made the cut.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Popping the Hood

by Julie Goldberg
I began reading when I was four years old and haven’t stopped since.

Immersive reading was my drug through an unhappy childhood and adolescence, with all the desperate need and avoidance of unpleasant reality that addiction entails. Books damaged my eyes rather than my liver, but they gave far more than they took. I lived more in books than in my hometown. I mainlined stories and characters and other lands, other realities.

There are worse ways to shut out the world.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Following

by Julie Goldberg

Tweets
RJ Hayden @RJHayden
I can tell you read my tweets, even though you don’t follow me. #justsayingupster
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2 May
RJ Hayden @RJHayden
In the gazebo where I used to kiss you breathless, I’ve left something for you.
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3 May
Scott @ScottyBoy79
What? Dude u never kissed me breathless!
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3 May
RJ Hayden @RJHayden
Only in your wettest dreams, Scott. Wasn’t talking to you
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3 May

Monday, November 5, 2012

Book Review: The Circus of Dreams

by Julie Goldberg

A book review of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

At the entrance to the Night Circus, Le Cirque des Rêves, the Circus of Dreams, stands a curious clock. By night,

The face of the clock becomes a darker grey, and then black, with twinkling stars where the numbers had been previously. The body of the clock, which has been methodically turning itself inside out and expanding, is now entirely subtle shades of white and grey. And it is not just pieces, it is figures and objects, perfectly carved flowers and planets and tiny books with actual pages that turn. There is a silver dragon that curls around part of the now visible clockwork, a tiny princess in a carved tower who paces in distress, awaiting an absent prince. Teapots that pour into teacups and minuscule curls of steam that rise from them as the seconds tick. Wrapped presents open. Small cats chase small dogs. An entire game of chess is played…

By noon it is a clock again, and no longer a dream.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Unfriended

by Julie Goldberg
“People don’t do this, you know,” Henry complained. I paid for his Big Mac, fries, and milkshake, and coffee for me.

“How would you prefer to do it? Tell me. I’ll do it your way.”

We sat at a table near the window.

“What is this bullshit, Rob? We’ve been on this trip together since, what, fourth grade? This is a joke, right?”

“I’m breaking up with you, Henry.”

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Book Review: Cromwell’s Long Game

by Julie Goldberg

A book review of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel


What sane person would want to write historical fiction?

Consider the challenges. You have to create a realistic, immersive sense of the past that requires you to know the period down to its hemlines, chariot wheels, and cooking technology, but you have to hide most of your research so that your story isn’t buried under historical details. It’s not a textbook. You have to know your intellectual history as well, so that your characters don’t think thoughts that people couldn’t have before Copernicus, or Darwin, or Betty Friedan, but you also have to make these strange people with their archaic paradigms relatable to your modern readers.

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