Schulman, Arlene 1961-
Schulman, Arlene 1961-
SCHULMAN, Arlene 1961-
PERSONAL: Born August 13, 1961, in Bronx, NY; daughter of Alan and Dorothy Schulman. Ethnicity: "Greek/Turkish/Russian/Austrian/Bronx." Politics: "Sporadic." Religion: "Diverse." Hobbies and other interests: "Writing, reading, shopping for thrift shop bargains."
CAREER: Journalist, author, editor and teacher. Photojournalist for publications including New York Times, New York Post, New York Daily News, El Diario-La Prensa, Village Voice, Newsday, Inside Sports, Cosmo, and others. Ohio State University, School of Journalism, visiting professor, 1996; James Thurber House Writing Camp, instructor, 1996; Columbus Dispatch, writing coach, 1996; New York City Public Schools, artist/writer-in residence, 1997-2001. Exhibitions: Photographs included in the collections of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the International Boxing Hall of Fame, the Museum of the City of New York, and the New York Public Library, as well as in private collections.
AWARDS, HONORS: Award for Exclusive and Outstanding Reporting, Gannett, Inc., 1987; Front Page Award for Sports Reporting, Newspaper Guild of New York, 1990; Miller Lite Women's Sports Journalism Award, 1992; Yaddo fellowship, 1994; Sporting News Award, 1994, for "Photograph of Young Boxer"; William Hill Sports Book of the Year finalist, 1995, for The Prizefighters; Best Books, New York Public Library, 1995, for The Prizefighters, 1997, for Muhammad Ali: Champion, and 2001, for 23rd Precinct: The Job and Cop on the Beat; A. J. Liebling Award for Outstanding Boxing Writing, Boxing Writers Association of America, 1996; fellowship, James Thurber House, Columbus, Ohio, 1996.
self-illustrated; with photographs
The Prizefighters: An Intimate Look at Champions and Contenders, Lyons, 1994.
Carmine's Story: A Book about a Boy Living with AIDS, Lerner (Minneapolis, MN), 1997.
T. J.'s Story: A Book about a Boy Who Is Blind, Lerner (Minneapolis, MN), 1998.
23rd Precinct: The Job, Soho Press, (New York, NY), 2001.
Cop on the Beat: Officer Steven Mayfield in New York City, Dutton (New York, NY), 2002.
Muhammad Ali: Champion, Lerner (Minneapolis, MN), 1996.
Robert F. Kennedy: Promise for the Future, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1998.
Editor, Inwood Literary Review, 2004—.
SIDELIGHTS: An accomplished sportswriter and photojournalist, Arlene Schulman has been branching out to embrace new formats and new subjects in her work. She commented on an underlying motivation that connects all of her creative efforts: "I'd like to bring a new awareness of different people to a diverse audience and show just how much people really do have in common. Carmine Buete, a ten-year-old boy living with AIDS, enjoyed the same video games and pizza that other kids his age enjoyed. Boxers in The Prizefighters considered themselves the same as other men, except they box for a living. T. J. Olsen, a ten-year-old boy who is blind, said, 'this is the way that I am.'"
Schulman put her photojournalistic and sportswriting skills to work in her first book, The Prizefighters: An Intimate Look at Champions and Contenders. The book is a compilation of interviews with famous boxers accompanied by black-and-white portraits. Booklist critic Wes Lukowsky wrote that The Prizefighters "succeeds on the merits of both its visuals and its text." With sincere admiration for boxers and their strenuous careers, Schulman elicits from her subjects a sense of "humility," wrote Lukowsky, "induced by a sport in which all the posturing and bravado can disappear in an instant." A Publishers Weekly reviewer especially appreciated Schulman's "engrossing text" and "most effective shots … [of] youngsters who dream of fame and money in the ring," and deemed the entire book "outstanding."
When Schulman was presented with an opportunity to write a book about a child with Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), as she told New York Daily News writer Vic Ziegel, she let the idea "rattle around" for about a month; "I was apprehensive," Schulman admitted. Through a social worker recommended by a pediatric AIDS foundation, she was introduced to ten-year-old Carmine. Born with the AIDS virus and having developed full-blown AIDS at age two, Carmine lived with his grandmother, because his mother died of AIDS just three months after giving birth to her son. Visiting with Carmine in his Queens, New York, home, Schulman began taking notes. In the New York Daily News article, she described her visits: "His mood would change depending on nothing. He was kind of quiet, very introspective. Sometimes he just wanted to sit on the couch and watch TV. Sometimes he wanted to be held by his grandmother. But once he found out he could beat me at video games, I became accepted." The story Schulman helps Carmine tell is a very real and very lonely one: "My best friends are my cousins," the boy relates in Carmine's Story. "They're the only friends I have. My favorite holiday is Halloween because my cousins and I go trick-or-treating. I just wish I had more energy to play. I'm used to spending a lot of time by myself, so I kind of like my peace and quiet after they leave." Schulman told Ziegel, "The book is geared to Carmine's peers. So I wanted to show him as somebody who is interested in the same things all kids are. Pizza, video games, Kentucky Fried Chicken." A Kirkus Reviews critic noted that Carmine "tried to have an outwardly normal life," but admitted that Schulman's photographs told a "haunting story—of an exhausted 34-pound child who knew he was dying." Carmine, according to the book's epilogue, died two months after his tenth birthday.
Schulman deals with the more public face of New York in Cop on the Beat: Officer Steven Mayfield in New York City. In this 2002 expose including a wealth of black-and-white photographs, she profiles a twelve-year veteran officer on the New York police force, and through his day-to-day dealings with the public in his upper-Manhattan beat, presents what School Library Journal contributor Lynn Evarts called a "positive picture of law enforcement" and an "uplifting and accurate description of one man's dedication to his career." In addition to his work, Mayfield volunteered with young people in the community he serves, and while the book contains the sometimes strong language of the street, Booklist reviewer Kathleen Odean noted that Schulman refrains from including "sensationalized TV cop stuff." Noting that the photojournalist "capably shapes Mayfield's words into a structured and well-paced narrative," Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books critic Deborah Stevenson added that the officer's engaging personality and interesting and candid commentary adds to the merits of the book, making Cop on the Beat a "thoughtful" as well as "enlightening and perhaps provocative" read.
Schulman told CA: "In 23rd Precinct I requested and was granted unprecedented access to the inner workings of a New York City police precinct. I captured, in unique detail, the lives, frustrations, and demands of police officers on the job. I rode with them on patrol and answered calls with them, calls that were violent and others requiring medical assistance. The project was a fascinating experience; I learned how the city works, how the NYPD and this precinct work, and how a neighborhood 'works.'"
About her craft, Schulman once commented: "I've always loved words, ever since I learned how to write. When we were required to put spelling words into stories in the third grade, I would turn in not just one story, but three, sometimes four. My father was a fantastic amateur photographer who documented our lives and took us to museums on the weekends. The writers and illustrators who have influenced my work include John Steinbeck, Carl Sandburg, Langston Hughes, Margaret Bourke-White, and Dorothea Lange."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Schulman, Arlene, Carmine's Story: A Book about a Boy Living with AIDS, Lerner, 1997.
Booklist, October 1, 1994, p. 228; March 15, 1998, p. 1236; November 15, 2002, Kathleen Odean, review of Cop on the Beat: Officer Steven Mayfield in New York City, p. 586.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, November, 2002, Deborah Stevenson, review of Cop on the Beat, p. 125.
Children's Bookwatch, May, 1996, p. 6.
Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 1997, p. 1713.
New York Daily News, November 18, 1997, p. 18.
Publishers Weekly, August 15, 1994, p. 83; September 23, 2002, review of Cop on the Beat, p. 74.
School Library Journal, June, 1996, p. 164; December, 2002, Lynn Evarts, review of Cop on the Beat, p. 168.