I grew up outside Chester, Pennsylvania, an industrial town on the Delaware River. I always felt I belonged somewhere else. After going to college in Ohio for two years—freezing in the cold Ohio wind—I tried coming back East and enrolled at George Washington University. I lasted a semester. Depressed, disliking my classes, and having met no friends, I dropped out. Back in Chester, twenty-one years old and living with my parents, I happened to see a photo in Life magazine of the Rocky Mountains. Two months later, I enrolled at the University of Colorado and my life changed. I was home. After graduating, I took various jobs in Santa Fe and Oregon, went to graduate school in Arizona, did a brief stint teaching in New Orleans, and finally found my way back Colorado, where I’ve lived for the last 35 years.
And yet . . .
For all my love of the adopted West, a part of me never adjusted completely to the greater open spaces out here, as well as those between people, and I missed the familiar if gruff intimacy of East Coasters. I’m not sure, as Faulkner noted, that the past ever leaves us, nor would we want it to, especially as writers who depend on its firepower for our stories.
My newest novel, The Tenderest of Strings, comes out of this lifelong ambivalence to find where you belong and to whom you belong. I don’t think it’s a novel I could have written as a younger man. I needed the experience of my own family, children, a career, and the accompanying failures and successes to put these very elements at risk for a fictional family.
If I had to pick my proudest accomplishment, it’s that I’m still writing. I know of no other pursuit that has stretched me, never allowed me to cut corners, and that has at times been breath itself.
I’ve published two other novels, A Good Doctor’s Son and Therapy, and four collections of stories, including, most recently, Madagascar: New and Selected Stories. My fiction has received the Nelson Algren Award, two O. Henry Prize Story Awards, the Cohen Award from Ploughshares, the Sherwood Anderson Prize, the Colorado Book Award for the Novel, and a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship. I’m Professor Emeritus of English at Colorado State University, where I serve as fiction editor for Colorado Review.
Regal House Publishing is delighted to bring you Steven Schwartz’s The Tenderest of Strings in the spring of 2022.