Holz, Cynthia 1950-

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HOLZ, Cynthia 1950-


Born 1950, in New York, NY; married; children: one son. Education: City University of New York, Queens College, B.A. (English), 1971.


Home—Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Thomas Allen Publishers, 145 Front St. East, Suite 209, Toronto, Ontario M5A 1E3, Canada.


Writer and educator. Business Week, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, correspondent, beginning in 1976; Ryerson Polytechnic University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, teacher of creative writing, 1990—; Toronto Public Library, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, writer-in-residence, 1999.


Home Again (short stories), Random House Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1989.

Onlyville (novel), illustrated by Gerard Brender à Brandis, Porcupine's Quill (Erin, Ontario, Canada), 1994.

The Other Side, Second Story Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1994.

Semi-Detached, Key Porter Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1999.

A Good Man, Thomas Allen Publishers (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2003.

Contributor to periodicals, including Quill & Quire, Ottawa Citizen, and Toronto Globe & Mail.


Cynthia Holz is a novelist and author of short stories. Home Again, her debut work, is a collection of stories that "concentrate on gloomy, repressed lives; people are dangerous containers that threaten to explode," according to Beverley Daurio in Books in Canada. The stories often feature female protagonists, "everyday heroines beating against the current, sometimes allowing themselves to be carried along by it," wrote Zsuzsi Gartner in Quill & Quire. Daurio added that the "most memorable characters" in Home Again are the women, and she complimented Holz's narrative voice, "a cold, precise voice, fascinating while it is telling a story, patronizing when it editorializes."

Onlyville concerns the spiritual and emotional crisis facing Anna Berman, a twenty-nine year old who tries to escape her troubled life by fleeing to her abandoned family cottage in Onlyville, a seacoast town. There, in the words of Quill & Quire reviewer Sandra Martin, Anna "dives in to the past, hoping to emerge refreshed and unfettered by the ghost of her mother," who drowned fifteen years earlier. Anna is soon joined, however, by her boyfriend and several members of her family. By the end of the novel, observed Chris Knight in the Canadian Book Review Annual, "Anna is leaving Onlyville again to find peace—but she leaves with a peace she has found there as well."

After her housemate commits suicide, an unemployed actress learns that his ghost still inhabits her kitchen in The Other Side. Though her own life is in chaos, Holly tries to help her dead friend, Marc, find the courage to "cross over." "Holz has set up a profound situation in a whimsical context," according to Canadian Book Review Annual contributor Martha Wilson, who stated that the author's "use of humor … can feel clumsy and heavy-handed." Quill & Quire reviewer Janet McNaughton called the work "a seriously comedic novel," but also remarked that Holz raised an important question: "Is a life like Holly's, a life without clear direction or purpose, worth living?"

A couple reexamines their relationship after more than three decades of marriage in Semi-Detached, "a sparely and buoyantly written" work according to Toronto Globe & Mail contributor Daurio. Barbara and Elliot Rifkin agree to live independently while still sharing a house, and to the consternation of friends and family, they divide their home into two separate living areas and begin dating other people. "Holz has a powerfully good time teasing her readers, and dangles her characters in their dilemmas mercilessly," Daurio stated.

Holz published her fourth novel, A Good Man, in 2003. The work follows Izzy Schneider, a man torn by grief and loss after his friend is murdered.



Books in Canada, June-July, 1989, review of Home Again, p. 26; summer, 1994, Maureen McCallum Garvie, review of Onlyville, p. 56.

Canadian Book Review Annual, 1994, Chris Knight, review of Onlyville, pp. 162-163; 1998, Martha Wilson, review of The Other Side, pp. 186-187; 1999, Sarah Robertson, review of Semi-Detached, p. 171.

Canadian Literature, summer, 2003, Sara Crangle, "Inside the House," pp. 188-191.

Globe & Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), August 28, 1999, Beverly Daurio, "Welcome to Our Tiny, Delicate World," p. D17.

Quill & Quire, May, 1989, Zsuzsi Gartner, review of Home Again, p. 19; March, 1994, Sandra Martin, "Mother & Child Reunion," p. 71; December, 1997, Janet McNaughton, review of The Other Side, pp. 24, 26; August, 1999, Mary Soderstrom, review of Semi-Detached, p. 32.


Thomas Allen Publishers Web site,http://www.thomasallen.com/ (April 16, 2004), "Cynthia Holz."

Writers' Union of Canada Web site,http://www.writersunion.ca/ (April 16, 2004), "Cynthia Holz."*

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