Two thousand years after her people left Jerusalem and eighty years after they left Turkey and fifty years after they left Poland and twenty-nine years after the death of her daughter, the woman walks down the desert road and she feels her body letting go of her.
“Deciding which medium I use to explore an idea comes down to immediacy. If there’s something urgent that I want to think through — the pool essay, for example — I like addressing it through nonfiction. The Internet makes it easy to join a ongoing conversation. Fiction, at least for me, moves much more slowly. The ideas I take on in fiction are usually ideas that I’ve been thinking about for years.”
In college I had a writing teacher who said, “If you’re ever writing about a childhood memory and you think your mother was wearing a blue dress, but you’re not sure if your mother was wearing a blue dress, then don’t write that.” And it’s great advice, but it sent me into this whole tailspin about what it means about myself if I imagined her wearing that. What else would be inaccurate? Did it mean the whole memory was fake? So, I became very interested in family stories as a place where narrative, and the facts, are constantly in contention. It’s a sphere where there is no proof, no objective truth of any matter, and I think that among all people who share large parts of their lives — families, couples who’ve been together for a while — this argument is very common.
“Initially, I was wary of speaking to congregations for fear that they wouldn’t like my politics, but now I can begin to see how this message is meant for the church, too. Of course I want people to admire my sentences and my book’s structure, but I really want to reach audiences that might be on the fence about LGBTQ issues (or at least people who have relatives that might be on the fence). I just love living in that in-between space. I like the hard struggle of being between audiences.”