Lynne Sharon Schwartz’s recent collection of short stories in Truthtelling embodies the wit, wisdom, and unique style of storytelling often shared by sages of old wishing to present food for thought to younger generations. Twenty-five stories, hewn of typically New York characters and settings, present humorous, serious, and sometimes fantastically simple fabric-of-life glimpses into what it means to be human in our modern world.
Subtitled Stories, Fables, and Glimpses, a reader may find subtle morals tucked here and there. In “The Middle Child,” a mother is confused by a child who continuously hangs out with her own two children, only to realize that this child is hers as well—her middle child, adopted a few years earlier. The comedy of the story is suddenly cut short at the end with a statement by the child hugging her now enlightened mother: “I’ve been waiting for you for so long…”
In “Breaking Up,” we hear an enraged female phone caller bellowing into the phone, “And don’t try to talk me out of it. It’s over. I’m breaking up with you.” The concerned receiver of the call, stating that the caller clearly has the wrong number, repeats this and eventually hangs up the phone. She can’t shake wondering what it was all about. Perhaps “…she wanted to be talked out of it, in one of those protracted and agonizing dialogues that after close analysis of recent behavior would end in a reconciliation, each one promising to do better in the future.” For days the receiver of the call is plagued by wonderings—even to the point of considering the possibility that someone might actually be trying to break up with her!
Masterfully written, endearingly told, these short stories are a joy to read, realistic endings, surprise twists, and all. A short story a day will keep a reader longing to hear more.