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Mandelbaum, Paul 1959–

Mandelbaum, Paul 1959–

PERSONAL: Born 1959. Education: University of Maryland, B.S.; University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, M.F.A.

ADDRESSES: Home—Culver City, CA. Office—Emerson College Los Angeles Center, 4001 West Alameda, Ste. 200, Burbank, CA 91505. Agent—Betsy Amster Literary Enterprises, P.O. Box 27788, Los Angeles, CA 90027-0788.

CAREER: Writer, educator, and journalist. Story magazine, former managing editor; Emerson College, literature and writing teacher.

AWARDS, HONORS: Ohio State Arts Council grant; California State Arts Council grant; James Michener/Copernicus Society of America Award.

WRITINGS:

(Collector and editor) First Words: Earliest Writing from Favorite Contemporary Authors, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC), 1993, revised edition, 2000.

Garrett in Wedlock (linked short stories), Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2004.

(Editor and author of introduction) Twelve Short Stories and Their Making, Persea Books (New York, NY), 2005.

Adrianne on the Edge: A Novel, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2005.

Contributor of short fiction to periodicals such as Doubletake, Harvard Review, New England Review, and Southern Review, and of nonfiction to publications including Baltimore, Commonweal, and New York Times Magazine.

Author's works have been translated into German.

SIDELIGHTS: Writer and journalist Paul Mandelbaum teaches English and literature at Emerson College Los Angeles Center and serves on the college's internship faculty. A graduate of the renowned University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and a former managing editor of Story magazine, Mandelbaum has published novels and numerous short stories as well as nonfiction articles.

In First Words: Earliest Writing from Favorite Contemporary Authors Mandelbaum presents a selection of very early works by well-known authors, among them Michael Crichton, Stephen King, John Updike, Ursula K. LeGuin, Norman Mailer, Joyce Carol Oates, and William S. Burroughs. The collected works are not the authors' first professional publications; they are the earliest-known examples of their writing and include high school newspaper stories, childhood poems and stories, and other juvenilia. Crichton "wrote cryptic, puzzlingly understated stories as a teen," stated Entertainment Weekly reviewer Erica Kornberg, while Gore Vidal examined the themes of duality that are common in his adult works in the tale of a boy whose friend nonchalantly admits to turning into a werewolf. Paul Bowles, known for his intense characters and exotic locations, sent his characters on whirlwind global tours even in stories written at age nine. The material "is quite revealing from the standpoint of literary research," noted Library Journal reviewer Angela Weiler, but the critic warned that the works are not the sophisticated material readers might be used to. However, Kornberg commented, "the fun lies, of course, in discovering similarities between these authors' mature works and their kid stuff."

Garrett in Wedlock is a novel-in-stories, an interlocked collection of eleven separate but related tales. Garrett Hughes, a middle-aged official in Baltimore's city government, is the third husband of May-Annlouise. Solid and conventional, Garrett is the perfect husband for the alluring and sometimes mercurial May-Annlouise, who says she loves Garrett for his plainness. Complicating Garrett's new marriage is his need to build a relationship with May-Annlouise's two children, daughter Lynn and son Turpin, half-sibling sired by different fathers whose individual impact is felt continuously throughout the stories. Lynn's father is Parni, an Indian Muslim, while Turpin's father, Tor, is a Norwegian anthropologist.

When Tor arrives on the Hughes's doorstep in "The Explorers," he informs them that he has an incurable condition called kuru, a brain-destroying disease that he contracted during a cannibalistic ritual, and wants to die in the only place he ever called home. Garrett and his wife agree, but the dying Tor's presence proves to be a disruption that threatens to divide May-Annlouise and the children's affections. Turpin gets in trouble for stealing a car in "Several Answers," in which the boy also reflects on his father's notions of the afterlife and begins to think about reincarnation. Lynn longs to reconnect with her father, and in the stories "Pendant" and "Parni's Present" Garrett takes her to spend time with Parni. Lynn experiences a religious conversion and becomes a Muslim, even agreeing to allow Parni to arrange a marriage for her. By the final story, Garrett has come to terms with his notions of paternity and parenthood. Garrett is "more observer than active protagonist, but his normalcy anchors the more precarious plotlines," remarked a critic in Kirkus Reviews.

"Too often a novel-in-stories fails to gel, but these eleven interlocking tales … marry well," stated the Kirkus Reviews critic. Garrett in Wedlock "paints an elaborate labyrinth of love and marriage that often invites misery to be a guest in its maze," commented Angela Stubbs of Bookslut.com. "The lives in Garrett in Wedlock exemplify the hoops that we often jump through to make things work," Stubbs added. "This, however, is one circus act all readers can take part in."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Entertainment Weekly, November 19, 1993, Erica Kornberg, review of First Words: Earliest Writing from Favorite Contemporary Authors, p. 84.

Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2004, review of Garrett in Wedlock, p. 933.

Library Journal, April 15, 2000, Angela Weiler, review of First Words, p. 88.

Publishers Weekly, November 6, 1995, review of First Words, p. 54.

ONLINE

Bookslut.com, http://www.bookslut.com/ (February, 2005), Angela Stubbs, review of Garrett in Wedlock.

Emerson College Web site, http://www.ecla.edu/ (April 12, 2005), "Paul Mandelbaum."

Paul Mandelbaum Home Page, http://www.paulmandelbaum.com (April 12, 2005).

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