August 10, 2014

From the Boring to the Bizarre with Justine Goldberg of New York

For a long time I believed my suburban New York City upbringing to be among the most boring imaginable. In a lot of ways, it was. Nothing much ever happened—nothing of note, anyway. At any given moment, I feel confident that all is as I left it. Life in that place is relentlessly unchanging.

It took the magic of distance (twelve years and 2,000 miles, to be exact) and the insight afforded by my writing to make me realize finally that this static, stale lifelessness that I always perceived and despised is in fact the source of my creative vision.

I write short stories primarily and those stories tend to be pretty strange. I shy away from realism, tending instead towards the extraordinary. I always have. These are the images that come to me: real people living real lives in which unreal things happen. Sometimes the unreal is merely unfamiliar; other times, downright bizarre. A lonely woman’s possessions disappear; a loser is driven mad by his inability to access an aspirin; a father trades in his child for a better model. I’m working on a collection now that explores mental abnormality in its many guises.

I admire writers like Kevin Brockmeier, Aimee Bender, Paul Auster and Marilynne Robinson whose creative work successfully marries what is of this world with what is not.  Because that’s what’s interesting to me: the stuff that lies between.

Would I favor the fantastic in my fiction if my upbringing had been fantastical? I doubt it. In writing, we seek out what we lack and, if we’re lucky, are rewarded with what we need.

About New York
One of the many things I love about New York is that it’s bursting with resources and opportunities for writers. Here are just a few.
About the Author
Justine Tal Goldberg is an award-winning writer and editor of both fiction and nonfiction. Her work has Anomalous Press, Whiskey Island, The Review Review, Publishing Perspectives, The Texas Observer, and other publications. She lives in New York City where she owns and operates WriteByNight, a writers’ service dedicated to helping writers achieve their literary goals.

Visit Justine's webhome:

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  1. Hi, Justine,

    From my terrace on the Palisades I view Manhattan every day. It is one of the most exciting cities in the world, a fascinating place for a writer to live and quite inspiring. Best wishes for success in your career.

  2. I agree completely, Jacqueline. I love it here and find inspiration for new material every day. Thanks for your kind words!

  3. Thanks from a transplanted New Yorker who found growing up in New York a loooong time ago, an exciting adventure, a wonderland of culture, entertainment, and education not to be found anywhere else. So you were banished to the unmentionable state west of the Hudson. Nice view, though. Love the twist in your short stories. May your career blossom and grow.

  4. Many thanks, Fran. Maybe you'll come back and visit us one of these days.


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