Foreman, Stephen H. 1940-

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Foreman, Stephen H. 1940-

PERSONAL:

Born December 23, 1940; married; children: two. Education: Morgan State University, B.A.; Yale School of Drama, M.F.A.

CAREER:

Screenwriter and director. Worked as a university teacher of writing and literature.

WRITINGS:

The Jazz Singer (novel; adaptation of play by Samson Raphaelson), Bantam Books (New York, NY), 1980.

Toehold: A Novel, Simon & Schuster Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2007.

SIDELIGHTS:

Stephen H. Foreman taught writing and literature at the university level for some time before striking out as a screenwriter and director in California. He has traveled widely, including through the Alaskan wilderness, through rainforests in the tropics, and down into the gold mines of Arizona. He eventually settled in the Catskill Mountains.

In his book Toehold: A Novel, Foreman uses his experiences trekking across Alaska to create a realistic setting. The cast of the novel is large and full of "ornery misfits," according to a writer for Kirkus Reviews. Each of the characters has reasons for having come to Toehold, Alaska, a forsaken spot. Mary Ellen—or "Mel"—ran away as a teenager, trying to escape her hateful family environment. Cody, a taxidermist, has a strong need for silence and prefers to be alone in the wilderness or with the animals he prepares in his taxidermy shop. Buddy, an ex-Marine, has reacted to being abandoned by his wife by moving as far from civilization as he could get while still technically remaining in the United States. Some of Toehold's residents are natives, such as Sweet-ass Sue the bartender and Summer Joe, the bigamist. Despite the desire to turn away from the rest of humanity, which is strong in many inhabitants of Toehold, "love blossoms even among these gruff types," said the Kirkus Reviews writer.

Cody teaches Mary Ellen how to hunt and trap, and when she finds herself short of money, she decides to rent space in her trailer as part of a hunting-lodge scheme. This brings her into contact with a film producer from Los Angeles. Mel takes herself seriously as a hunter, but the producer sees her only as a pretty woman in a dingy town. As the plot unfolds, it focuses on a developing relationship between Cody and Mel, while secondary plotlines follow the budding romances among other characters. The result is an "oddball romance rich in local color," according to the Kirkus Reviews writer. Joanne Wilkinson, reviewing for Booklist, found Toehold to be a "raucous" comedy concerning people who have to work hard simply to make a living in their hostile region. A Publishers Weekly writer called the author's depiction of the Alaskan wilderness "striking." Praising Foreman's creation of lively characters and his evocation of the setting, along with his "quirky humor," Wilkinson concluded that Toehold is a "feel-good first novel [that] will leave readers in high spirits."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, October 1, 2007, Joanne Wilkinson, review of Toehold: A Novel, p. 33.

Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2007, review of Toehold.

Publishers Weekly, July 30, 2007, review of Toehold, p. 51.

ONLINE

Simon & Schuster Web site,http://www.simonsays.com/ (August 5, 2008), author profile.

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