PERSONAL: Female. Education: West Chester University, B.A., 1991.
ADDRESSES: Office—Rosemont College, 1400 Montgomery Ave., Rosemont, PA 19010. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer and educator. Rosemont College, Rosemont, PA, graduate faculty member.
Wake: Stories, Counterpoint (New York, NY), 2003.
The Number We End Up With: A Novel, Counterpoint (New York, NY), 2005.
Contributor of short stories to periodicals, including Missouri Review, Literal Latte, and Massachusetts Review.
ADAPTATIONS: Many of Goldner's short stories have been performed for the "Writing Aloud" program, InterAct Theatre Company (Philadelphia, PA).
SIDELIGHTS: Author Beth Goldner has written several short stories for various periodicals and in 2003 she published her first collection, titled Wake: Stories. The collection includes eleven first-person narratives featuring people who are searching for happiness and fulfillment in their various stages of life. In the title story two young girls plan a funeral for their healthy cat in order to cope with their parents' mental illness. In "Farm Wife," a woman resolves to marry anyone she can after her sister's husband dies, and "Expatriates" tells the story of a girl who is deserted by her father when he abandons the family for a younger woman. Another woman encourages her husband's young coworker to take her place after she dies in "Deep Down to the Bottom of This." Many of the stories, such as "Checkmate," detail the lives of broken families.
Critics enjoyed Goldner's fast-paced, vivacious writing style. Lisa Nussbaum, writing in the Library Journal, remarked that "Goldner's literary voice is fresh and vibrant," while Deborah Donovan, reviewing Wake in Booklist, held a similar opinion, noting that the "crystal-clear vignettes linger with the reader long after the last story … has been read." Although a Kirkus Reviews critic felt that "bravado can sometimes overwhelm her characters," New York Times contributor Kevin Canfield stated that "the author proves herself to be uncommonly perceptive about matters of love and loss."
In 2005 Goldner published her first novel, The Number We End Up With. In the story, protagonist Anjou Lovett has an unfaithful boyfriend, Quinn, who is struck by a car and killed. Not long after the accident, Anjou loses her job as a forensic accountant. Because she relies on numbers and lists to restore order to her life, Anjou begins a temporary job with the U.S. Census Bureau. Anjou begins asking her neighbors more personal questions than they had anticipated, such as if they have ever cheated on their spouse and if it is possible to love two people at the same time. Eventually, Anjou is fired from the job, and she seeks emotional reconciliation by contacting her estranged father and confronting her dead boyfriend's lover.
Most reviewers offered favorable responses to The Number We End Up With. In a review posted on the Curled Up with a Good Book Web site, Stefanie Hernandez called the novel "funny" and "poignant," and further commented, "Goldner writes about things such as loss and human sorrow with a soft touch." Although Leah Greenblatt, writing in Entertainment Weekly, felt that "Goldner's writing is at times overwrought," a Publishers Weekly reviewer pointed out the novel's "elegant structure and pace" and called Anjou "a touching, modern character, rife with contradictory desires." Additionally, a Kirkus Reviews critic maintained that "Goldner's neurotic list-maker narrator is … endearing, in a debut with emotional resonance," and concluded that the novel is a "heartfelt, interior work."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, August, 2003, Deborah Donovan, review of Wake: Stories, p. 1952.
Entertainment Weekly, July 8, 2005, Leah Greenblatt, review of The Number We End Up With: A Novel, p. 74.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2003, review of Wake, p. 874; April 15, 2005, review of The Number We End Up With, p. 438.
Library Journal, October 1, 2003, Lisa Nussbaum, review of Wake, p. 118.
New York Times, November 9, 2003, Kevin Canfield, review of Wake.
Publishers Weekly, April 18, 2005, review of The Number We End Up With, p. 40.
Curled Up with a Good Book, http://www.curledup.com/ (April 13, 2006), Stefanie Hernandez, review of The Number We End Up With.
Rosemont College Web Site, http://www.rosemont.edu/ (April 13, 2006), brief biography of author.