Kaplan-Maxfield, Thomas 1952–
Kaplan-Maxfield, Thomas 1952–
PERSONAL: Born October 17, 1952, in Chicopee, MA; son of Gerald and Julie (Rodoreda) Maxfield; married June 5, 1976; wife's name Ellen Kaplan (a web-designer). Education: Boston College, Ph.D. Politics: "Progressive"
ADDRESSES: Office—Boston College, Carney Hall 331, 140 Commonwealth Ave., Chestnut Hill, MA 02467. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Kepler Press, P.O. Box 400326, Cambridge, MA 02140. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer. Tufts University, Boston, MA, instructor; Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA, instructor.
Memoirs of a Shape-Shifter (novel), Kepler Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.
Contributor to periodicals, including Poets and Writers.
SIDELIGHTS: Thomas Kaplan-Maxfield published Memoirs of a Shape-Shifter in 2005. The contemporary gothic novel tells the story of Nikki Helmik, a forty-year-old woman who quits her law career and returns to her hometown of Gloucester, Massachusetts. In Gloucester she falls in love with the son of her childhood mentor, the cruel Rose Eveless, who is obsessed with the idea of eternal youth. Rose doesn't approve of the relationship but will allow it if Nikki promises to find the lost journal of Anne Cleves, a Druid magician who lived in colonial New England and was an ancestor of Nikki's. The novel alternates between Nikki's present-day narration and her ancestor's journal, which reveals just as much about Nikki as it does about its writer.
On the Web site Curled Up with a Good Book, Mayra Calvani noted that the dialogue in this study of the female psyche "flows naturally and sparkles with genuineness, and the author does an excellent job putting himself in the mind of the female protagonist." In addition, a contributor to the Small Press Bookwatch described the book as "entangled," and added that the story "does not let go until the final page."
On his home page, Kaplan-Maxfield credits writing with keeping him alive. In a welcoming message on the Web site, the writer tells a story of his fictional heart transplant, which included complications and a dream in which the donor told him he needed to write in order to stay alive. His stories, he reflected, are "all fundamentally about love; from the heart."
Kaplan-Maxfield told CA: "I became a writer in fifth grade, when I simultaneously discovered, via watching a movie called The Cardinal, that I did not want to become a priest, that I could enter the fictional world via writing, that that world felt like home to me, and when I kissed my first girl. Since then writing, 'truth' in some sense, and women have been entangled in my imagination.
"I was a friend of Lawrence Durrell for many years, and published an article about that friendship in Poets and Writers in 1993, after Mr. Durrell's death. He has been a major influence on my writing.
"What I've learned as a writer is perhaps not so much surprising as crucial: it's to ignore the voice that says 'this is awful' as well as 'this is great.' I consider both voices the same, essentially, and equally to be ignored. It is not the artist's job to judge the work, but rather to perform his job as well as he can. Having a favorite book seems like having a favorite child; in some way it would feel like a betrayal of the others. Memoirs of a Shape-Shifter is the book that's out there in the world right now and just getting going, and so it is taking my attention.
"I consider myself growing on the same tree as Thoreau, Henry Miller, Kerouac, Durrell and others who assumed a connection between life and art, between belief and action, fantasy and behavior. Thus I would like my work to immerse the reader in that sense—that always and everywhere art is life and life art. Because love is the activity where we most feel and see the connection between our feelings and our behaviors, I have had many 'heart transplants.' As I say in my readings for Memoirs of a Shape-Shifter, which is about the ancient art of shape-shifting, when one falls in love, one's shape is shifted by the other. One gives one's heart away and in a sense takes on another one. This is the way in which I intended the story of the heart transplant on my Web site, for it delineates most precisely my approach to life."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Small Press Bookwatch, September, 2005, review of Memoirs of a Shape-Shifter.
Curled Up with a Good Book, http://www.curledup.com/ (January 11, 2006), Mayra Calvani, review of Memoirs of a Shape-Shifter.
Kepler Press Web site, http://www.keplerpress.com/ (January 11, 2006), biography of Thomas Kaplan-Maxfield.
Thomas Kaplan-Maxfield Home Page, http://www.tkaplanmaxfield.com (January 11, 2006).