Gold, Jerome 1943-
Gold, Jerome 1943-
Born September 8, 1943, in Chicago, IL; son of Sidney Singman and Edith Gold; married Clotilde Rita Litchfield, August 20, 1965 (divorced, April, 1978); married Willa Jeanne Wiley, August 12, 2004; children: (first marriage) Jack Michael, David Charles, Leah Molina Antonia. Ethnicity: "Jewish." Education: Fullerton College, A.A., 1968; University of Montana, B.A., 1970, M.A., 1976; University of Washington, Seattle, Ph.D., 1988. Hobbies and other interests: Scuba diving, running.
Office—Black Heron Press, P.O. Box 95676, Seattle, WA 98145.
Juvenile rehabilitation counselor at a prison for children in the Pacific Northwest, 1991-2006; Black Heron Press, Seattle, WA, owner. Moderator of forums on writing and independent publishing. Military service: U.S. Army, active duty, 1963-66, 1980-82, 2000; served in Vietnam; became major; received combat infantryman's badge and senior parachutist badge.
Bumbershoot Book Award, 1996, for Publishing Lives.
The Negligence of Death (novel), Black Heron Press (Seattle, WA), 1984.
(With Les Galloway) Of Great Spaces (short stories), Black Heron Press (Seattle, WA), 1987.
War Stories (chapbook of short stories), Wonder Publishing (Seattle, WA), 1990.
The Inquisitor (novel), Black Heron Press (Seattle, WA), 1991.
Life at the End of Time (chapbook of short stories and essays), Black Heron Press (Seattle, WA), 1992.
(Editor) Hurricanes, Black Heron Press (Seattle, WA), 1994.
Publishing Lives: Interviews with Independent Book Publishers in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia, Black Heron Press (Seattle, WA), 1996.
The Prisoner's Son (novel), Black Heron Press (Seattle, WA), 1996.
Sergeant Dickinson: A Novel, Soho Press (New York, NY), 1999.
Prisoners (poetry and short stories), Black Heron Press (Seattle, WA), 1999.
Obscure in the Shade of the Giants: Publishing Lives, Volume II, Black Heron Press (Seattle, WA), 2001.
(Editor and contributor) Dogs Cats Crows: A Black Heron Press Animal Anthology (chapbook of short stories and poetry), Black Heron Press (Seattle, WA), 2001.
How I Learned that I Could Push the Button (memoir), Black Heron Press (Seattle, WA), 2003.
Stillness (poetry chapbook), Black Heron Press (Seattle, WA), 2005.
Work represented in anthologies, including clear-cut: anthology, Sub Rosa Press (Seattle, WA), 1996; and Ear to the Ground, Cune Press (Seattle, WA), 1997. Contributor of articles, essays, short stories, poetry, and reviews to periodicals, including Redneck Review of Literature, Fever, Writers Northwest, Village Idiot, Left Bank, Chiron Review, and Hawaii Review.
Interview material gathered for Publishing Lives is held at the libraries of Washington State University.
In 2001, selections from Prisoners were performed in Los Angeles, California, by Blonde and Brunette Productions as a set of monologues.
Jerome Gold once told CA: "Early on, my work was influenced by the writing and moral courage of Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, and Andre Malraux, then by the intellectual rigor of Shakespeare, Tolstoy, and Dostoevski, and by their desire to comprehend the world. Then I came to admire the work of Philip K. Dick, Joan Didion, and Ursula K. LeGuin. Stylistically, I am indebted to Hemingway, Isak Dineson, and James Joyce.
"In terms of life influences, I think I inherited a certain intolerance for social injustice from my father. Also, I was a soldier in Vietnam; there seems no escaping that experience, at least in the United States. More important, I think, was my involvement as a local-level organizer during the War against Poverty in the early 1970s. What I learned then about America and Americans I have carried with me for a quarter century.
"Publishing Lives: Interviews with Independent Book Publishers in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia is composed of interviews with publishers. The second volume includes interviews with publishers, wholesalers, and distributors. My idea is to track, through interviews, the route of a book from the publisher to the reader. I am interested in the interplay between the personality of the individual cultural gatekeeper and the decisions he or she makes concerning the progress of the book.
"I am researching book publishing, but I am also concerned with the moral consequences of violence. I have spent much of my adult life in this investigation and expect I will continue. Themes of trauma, betrayal, and violence figure largely in my fiction. Of course, I anticipate other stories will develop from this investigation."
Gold's war novel, Sergeant Dickinson: A Novel, follows the title character from the midst of a siege by North Vietnamese on his remote outpost, to a training exercise in which he is ironically wounded and sent home, where he suffers the type of anomie felt by other veterans of the era and shortly re-enlists for a third tour of duty. "Gold has shaped a powerful, merciless novel from this raw material," commented George Needham in Booklist. The reviewer for Kirkus Reviews emphasized Gold's reliance upon the standard elements of the Vietnam war novel, including scenes of disenchanted soldiers bloodlessly betting on the survival rates of the critically wounded, and concluded that "Sergeant Dickinson in fact hits every note quite convincingly." Though Sergeant Dickinson fails to add anything significantly new to the genre, its "relentless fatalism and narrative momentum identify it as an authentic member" of a group of "classic" novels to emerge from the conflict in Vietnam, this critic wrote.
Gold later told CA: "In reviewing what I wrote here some years ago, it was interesting to discover that I defined myself then much as I would today. I continue to explore the themes of trauma, injustice, and violence, including their moral consequences, and my experience of war in Vietnam continues to reveal itself in my writing, even when I anticipate that it will not. I recently completed writing a book about part of my experience as a rehabilitation counselor at a prison for children. Its tentative title is Find a Level of Paranoia You Can Live with and Stay There: Develop an Infinite Capacity for Heartbreak. It's an edited and polished version of the journal I kept during the time I worked at the place I call Ash Meadow. All the time I was there, friends asked why I as doing such emotionally involving work, and I never could come up with an answer that satisfied me. Finally, as I was finishing the book, I understood that my life has taken the course it has, at least in part, because I was trying to compensate for the deaths of a young mother and her infant son I had witnessed in Vietnam. I had written about it before in Sergeant Dickinson and at length in my journal, but I didn't comprehend its continued significance until my third go-round at editing Paranoia and Heartbreak.
"Although Paranoia and Heartbreak is closer to my life than the other books I've written, most of my writing is centered around what I myself have seen or experienced. I think there are a couple of reasons for this. I am trying to create meaning for my own life and time. By writing I am able to expand my experience into something that may touch the world. Although I have no control over how something I have written will be perceived by its reader, the fact that people read and are affected by what I have written helps to validate my experiences. Also, I have been very fond of a number of people I have known and by recreating them, or aspects of them, on paper, I immortalize them. They are always alive, they are always laughing or enduring in the pages I have written for them.
"I don't think I have chosen what I write about. I can say that my subjects have chosen me, and that may be true. But my—shall I call them obsessions?—my obsessions, then, are those I pondered even as a child, before I began to write. My father's influence, my experience of war, my involvement as an organizer during the War against Poverty, my work as a rehabilitation counselor, have all defined, or refined, what I would write about."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Gold, Jerome, How I Learned that I Could Push the Button, Black Heron Press (Seattle, WA), 2003.
Booklist, August, 1999, George Needham, review of Sergeant Dickinson: A Novel, p. 2023.
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 1999, review of Sergeant Dickinson, p. 903.
Library Journal, February 1, 1985, Richard W. Grefrath, review of The Negligence of Death, p. 112.
New York Times Book Review, August 8, 1999, review of Sergeant Dickinson, p. 17.