During the first few stories, we think the book centers on Manfred, an Austrian Holocaust survivor whose parents converted out of Judaism to save him from centuries of oppression. He and his third wife, Greta, are forced to mourn the accidental death of their youngest child, a trauma that affects them deeply but differently. Only after several stories focused on Manfred’s upbringing and young adulthood do we realize that the protagonist is his wife and then widow, Greta. Starting in Jamaica, the stories shift back and forth in time and place, from Europe to Chicago to Door County, Wisconsin. We follow Greta’s emotional journey, spiritual longings, and religious awakening as she survives the complexities of a full life.
Today I talked to Maggie Kast about her new book Side by Side but Never Face to Face: A Novella and Stories (Orison Books, 2020) Kast received an M.F.A. in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has published fiction in The Sun, Nimrod, Rosebud, Paper Street and others. A chapter of her memoir, published in ACM/Another Chicago Magazine, won a Literary Award from the Illinois Arts Council. Her essays have appeared in America, Image, Writer’s Chronicle, and Superstition Review and have been anthologized in Love You to Pieces: Creative Writers on Raising a Child with Special Needs (Beacon Press) and Gravity Pulls You In: Perspectives on Parenting Children on the Autism Spectrum (Woodbine House). Kast is a Board Member of Links Hall, an incubator and presenter of dance and performance art in Chicago. When not writing, Maggie loves cooking, and although she loves traditional midwestern food, also specialized in Viennese cuisine.
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