Fifteen years ago Sheila Schwartz wrote her first novel. In November 2008, four months before its release, she succumbed to ovarian cancer. Her husband, Dan Chaon, wants to tell you about the new book by Sheila Schwartz.
Schwartz is one of those writers who you’ve probably never heard of, and who, but for the dice of fate might just as easily have become a household name. USA Today named her first book of stories, Imagine a Great White Light, one of the best books of the year of 1991. (Actually, if you think about it, USA Today talking about a book of stories at all is amazing in and of itself–if it was tougher than a mountain-climb then, it’d probably take two miracles now.) Anyway, her debut novel, Lies Will Take You Somewhere–which in a just world would never have had to be described as “posthumous”–is out this month from Etruscan Press. In “What Happened To Sheila,” her husband Dan Chaon guides us through his wife’s life and works, and recounts for us the delightful story of their courtship, when he was “an undergraduate student, and she was a first time teacher, straight out of Stanford…” Chaon writes: “I know I’m only one of many of her students who fell madly in love with her, but I happened to be lucky.”
It’s an incredible story, and it seems to me emblematic of the kind of stellar, unique work that The Rumpus is committed to publishing, so after you click over there and read it, click back over this way and read my Q&A with editor Stephen Elliott, which you can find right after the jump. We talk about the impetus for founding the site, what’s missing from the mainstream blogosphere, and the challenges that promising web-projects like his (and ours!) face and how to overcome them or die trying. Plus, you know, other awesome stuff too.