“One of the amazing things about writing fiction is that you do get to be other people.”
– Deborah Eisenberg
Born on this date in 1945, Eisenberg is a short-story writer who also is a teacher and an actress, another career choice that gives her the opportunity to “be” other people.
A native of Illinois, she moved to New York City early in her adult life to take a job as an editorial assistant at The New York Review of Books, a position that put her squarely in touch with writing of all types. While she worked on lots of books, she said doing books was never on her radar screen. Instead, she wanted to just write stories. “Writing does change you, and of course it feels good to do things, so you could say writing is de facto therapeutic. But really, one writes to write.”
Eisenberg taught at both the University of Virginia (for nearly 20 years) and now at Columbia University in Manhattan where she resides. Meanwhile, she also ended up publishing several books of her short stories for which she’s won several honors, including the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg and (in 2015) the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story. She also has written a play, Pastorale, which was produced at Second Stage in New York City.
As for her writing advice, she says be conversational. “It's much easier to read the stories that have a lot of dialogue . . .they flow much more easily into speech.”
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