My Life at the Wheel: Toward a Memoir (Hardcover)

My Life at the Wheel: Toward a Memoir By Lynne Sharon Schwartz Cover Image

My Life at the Wheel: Toward a Memoir (Hardcover)


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In this collection of impeccably written essays, Schwartz tells us early on that she never thought of her life as a “continuous line” but rather a series of intertwined interrupted experiences. Hers is a life that has been bumped, tumbled, and smoothed by an endless stream of travel, fascinating people, and books: writing them, pondering them, translating them.

Her essays range from musings about the art of translation, the tribulations of major surgery dissected with biting wit, a quest for recovery from the 9 /11 attacks at a music school, and hours spent with friends arguing, drinking and smoking in a neighborhood bar. Her personal narratives range from humorous childhood (an 8-year-old writer) and troubled revelations to learning to be an adult facing the difficulties of simultaneously writing and raising children. We see her as a daughter struggling to understand her parents through adolescent eyes, a mother startled at the all-consuming demands of motherhood and writing, and as an older adult grappling with mortality. Throughout, she is painfully honest, funny, and unafraid of difficult truths. While Schwartz’s perspective is decidedly literary, her reflections reveal a careful look at life’s big questions through the prism of a ­­shared yet very individual experience. Relentlessly candid, subjecting herself to her own sharp scrutiny, she is willing to confront the confusions of maturing in a changing world.

Lynne Sharon Schwartz is the author of twenty-eight books of fiction, essays, and poetry, including her 2021 story collection, Truthtelling, as well as the novels Disturbances in the Field, Leaving Brooklyn, a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, and Rough Strife, a finalist for the National Book Award. She has also published two memoirs, Ruined by Reading and Not Now, Voyager, and has translated from the Italian. Schwartz is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts in Fiction and, separately, for Translation, and the New York State Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. She has taught widely in the United States and abroad, most recently at the Bennington College Writing Seminars and the Columbia University School of the Arts.

“Written with wit and humor, these personal essays cover a wide spectrum of human experience, from childhood curiosity and teen angst to the give-and-take of adulthood.” — New York Times Book Review 

Praise for Truthtelling: Stories, Fables, Glimpses: “Meticulously crafted…. This first-rate collection demonstrates why Schwartz remains an American literary treasure.” — Publishers Weekly

“A grab bag of realist and experimental stories, each one a treasure… wise, wry, and witty—these stories in all their stylistic variations are perfect.” — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Moving… [the author] has found her way into a new realm of fiction that evades an easy label… the[se] stories feel relevant to the moment.” — LA Review of Books

“This excellent writer has the great gift of making even the slightest of domestic situations feel richly alive to the pleasures we allow and the punishments we inflict on ourselves and one another. It is a joy to read this latest collection of her short fictions.” — Vivian Gornick, author of Fierce Attachments: A Memoir

“These wonderful stories about our need for connection and our sense of alienation are timely and timeless at once. Lynne Sharon Schwartz is a dazzling writer.” — Hilma Wolitzer, author of Hearts

“This elegant new collection includes some of Schwartz’s most surprising and satisfying short works, demonstrating anew her sustained powers as a writer, through an astonishing 28 books and 40 years.” — Alix Kates Shulman, author of Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen

Praise for Rough Strife: “[Schwartz’s]insights are at once sympathetic and drenched with irony.” — The New York Times

Praise for Disturbances in the Field: “Disturbances in the Field seems a more-than-welcome return to a classic idea of the novel... A wonder to read... I can think of no other contemporary writer who writes so well, with such rich sensuality.” — Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Wonderful... It goes beyond literature and philosophy to a tough, battered truth.” — The New York Times

“A quiet masterwork of late 20th-century American realism.” — Kirkus Reviews

“The book has the architecture of a sonata.” — San Jose Mercury News

Praise for This is Where We Come In: “[R]eading Schwartz is like a pleasurable visit with a thoughtful and articulate friend.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Lynne Sharon Schwartz reaches into her heart, examines its intricacies, tinkers with little broken bits, and shows us what she’s learned—daring us to try this risky procedure at home.” — Los Angeles Review of Books