Friday, November 20, 2009

In case of survival – T. Gertler

Who is T. Gertler?

– Birth date and/or death date unknown...

I have a love hate relationship with the online world. In cases such as now, when I am attempting to discover more about an author, I find the resources on the net incredible.

For example, I cannot now seem to get enough of William H. Gass. Through the generosity of my public library, I have access online to The Review of Contemporary Fiction. This periodical over the past 15 years or so has devoted plenty of paper to Gass.

I can now get my Gass fix on! Interviews, papers by noted authors on Gass, studies on a variety of subjects by Gass himself...there is so much there.

Man...the guy really is a genius.

Concerning the current author I am researching – T. Gertler – really, there isn’t a whole lot out there on her. I did discover one treasure that offered a wealth of information.

Through the discovery of an interview Don Swaim conducted with Gertler , which is available online, I was able to learn her first name (Trudy) as well as get a rough estimate of her age. Age really isn’t that important, but I like to get a sense of where an author was in their life when they wrote a particular story.

Gertler gave her interview in 1984 – to discuss the recent publication of her first novel. In the interview, she states that she was 18 in 1965...the second and final year of undergraduate schooling. So – birth year could be around 1947 – she was 37 or so in age now...

another one of those weird coincidences I seem to be running across with these readings.

Today – 2009 – would make her around 62.

Her interview, which is pleasant – nothing spectacular – is the full ½ hour interview that Swaim would later cut down to around 3 or 4 minutes for broadcast. I am so grateful that these raw interviews have been posted because without them, so many little details that I have questions about would never be answered.

I really enjoy just listening to the audio of these interviews rather than seeing a video. I think the videos are too distracting. Gertler has a great voice. Her command of English is what one could expect of a writer.

Another added benefit of these full unedited interviews is hearing the raw writer. For example, I never expected that Gertler would have only attended 2 years of college...and her reasons for doing so, and not especially wanting to return are wonderful.

Onto the story.

I can really feel the 1970s in this selection.

Clawing through the fog of memories of my 8 years in that decade...maybe 2 or 3 of those years with the ability to really form some vivid - lasting memories, which are memories of my life in Virginia Beach.

Long walks down abandoned train tracks with my father to fly a kite in what seemed to be a huge field of wheat.

Sunday morning walks through the woods to our little church on Virginia Beach Blvd. and finding turtles to carry home and poke at.

Listening to my mother sing Carley Simon and Boz Scaggs in the kitchen.

Playing on the jungle gym in our backyard.

Crawling around the kitchen island chasing my little sister and slicing my shin open on a hard-candy tin leading to 5 stitches and leaving a scar that I can glance at regularly these days...32 years later.

All wonderful times before our family disintegrated into a statistic.

Aside from those childhood memories, the 1970s in my mind today represent a decade in this country’s past that should be erased from our collective history. I find it hard to think of anything good that came of that decade. It was born from the spasms and upheavals of the 1960’s and buried by the progressive 1980s.


Self-repression. This short story illustrates perfectly the black soul that lived within our society during the 70’s.

I can taste the acid of hate in my throat as I write this. God, that time makes me physically ill, and the pitiful man in this story makes me want to spit.

We wouldn’t talk to each other, we hid behind our work, our affairs, our money, our alcohol, our dysfunction.

We did not communicate. And look where that took us. Divorce, addiction and suicide just to pull out a few of society’s ills.

If there is a life lesson that I consider to be the most important that I have learned in my short 37 years on this earth, it would be the value of communication with others.

Just talk.

Don’t hide, don’t bury your problems, don’t lie...put everything out on the table and communicate with each other.

Now what you say, or what I say, may not be pleasing, but in the long run of life, feelings will be spared, emotions will not be damaged and consciences will be clean.

I loved the reminder of this important lesson.

Score : 9 out of 10.

1 comment:

  1. I just finished re-reading T. Gerler's "Elbowing the Seducer," which I'd read in the late 1980s and wanted to re-read to see whether it was as great a novel as I'd remembered. It is. It's her only novel, but if that's all she ever writes, it's still far more and of much better quality than most will ever publish.