Episode 23: Surprise Me by Deena Goldstone
"Surprise me." These words, from whence the novel takes its title, are what teacher and washed-up novelist Daniel Jablonski tells college senior Isabelle Rothman when she gives him her writing. She doesn't find his words helpful. Their relationship begins as fractious, contentious, and barbed, but it proves to be enduring, girded by a slow-emerging mutual respect. In the years following Isabelle's graduation, the two remain connected by a correspondence that proves important to them both. Through its exploration of their connection, Surprise Me is a meditation on writing, mentorship, and what it is to tell someone else's stories.
Deena Goldstone talks about what surprised her in the writing of this book ("Daniel's son was a revelation to me"), about the morality of mining other people's lives ("Almost everything I write has some germ in something that's happened to me or someone I know . . . but the entity that you create is a thing in and of itself"), and whether it's possible to teach someone to write ("mentorship is [ultimately] about helping someone find their own voice").
Guest readers Emily Moore and Matt Higbee join host Cyd Oppenheimer to discuss gender dynamics, the tension between writing and motherhood, and stalkers and figure skaters.