Zlotchew, Clark M. 1932–

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ZLOTCHEW, Clark M. 1932–

(Cliff Garnett)


Born October 14, 1932, in Jersey City, NJ; son of Harry (a dry goods retailer) and Francine (a homemaker) Zlotchew; married Marilyn Kocin, December 26, 1965; children: Philip, Ethan, David. Ethnicity: "Russian-Jewish." Education: New York University, B.S., 1957; Middlebury College, M.A., 1967; State University of New York at Binghamton, Ph.D., 1974. Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: Playing the guitar, listening to music, writing fiction.


Home—Fredonia, NY. OfficeState University of New York College at Fredonia, Fredonia, NY 14063; fax: 716-673-3446. E-mail[email protected]


Schenley International Corp., New York, NY, sales and production liaison, 1957-62; high school Spanish teacher in Dumont, NJ, 1962-66; Norwich University, Northfield, VT, assistant professor of Spanish, 1966-68; State University of New York College at Geneseo, Geneseo, instructor in Spanish, 1970-74; bilingual teacher of occupational skills, safety, and high school equivalency classes in Bergen, NY, 1974; project coordinator of bilingual program in Batavia, NY, 1975; State University of New York College at Fredonia, Fredonia, assistant professor, 1975-78, associate professor, 1978-82, professor of Spanish, 1982—, Kasling Memorial Lecturer, 1992. New York State Council on Linguistics, member. Military service: U.S. Naval Reserve, 1950-69; became chief petty officer.


Modern Language Association of America, American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, American Literary Translation Association, Academia Porteña del Lunfardo, Instituto Literario y Cultural Hispánico, Círculo de Cultura Panamericano, Northeast Modern Language Association, International Association of Torch Clubs.


Grants from National Endowment for the Humanities, 1978 and 1987.


(Translator and author of foreword and notes) Fernando Sorrentino, Seven Conversations with Jorge Luis Borges, Whitston (Troy, NY), 1982.

(Translator, with Robert Bly, Dennis Maloney, and others) Light and Shadows: Selected Poems and Prose of Juan Ramón Jiménez, White Pine (Buffalo, NY), 1987.

(Translator, with Dennis Maloney) Pablo Neruda, The House at Isla Negra, White Pine (Buffalo, NY), 1988.

(Translator) Falling through the Cracks: Short Stories of Julio Ricci, White Pine (Buffalo, NY), 1989.

(Translator, with Dennis Maloney) Pablo Neruda, The House in the Sand: Prose Poems, Milkweed Editions (Minneapolis, MN), 1990.

Libido into Literature: The "Primera Epoca" of Benito Pérez Galdós, Borgo (San Bernardino, CA), 1993.

Estilo literario: Análisis y creación (creative writing textbook), Borgo (San Bernardino, CA), 1993.

Voices of the River Plate: Interviews with Writers of Argentina and Uruguay, Borgo (San Bernardino, CA), 1995.

(Translator, with Dennis Maloney and Maria Jacketti) Pablo Neruda, The House at Isla Negra, translated by Zlotchew, Maloney, and Maria Jacketti, White Pine (Buffalo, NY), 1998.

Macmillan Teach Yourself Spanish in 24 Hours, Macmillan (New York, NY), 2000, 2nd edition published as Alpha Teach Yourself Spanish in 24 Hours, Alpha Books (New York, NY), 2004.

(Under pseudonym Cliff Garnett) Dire Straits (novel), Signet (New York, NY), 2001.

Contributor of short stories, poetry, articles, and translations to periodicals.


Clark M. Zlotchew once told CA: "My earliest writings concerned linguistics, especially the history and 'dialectology' of the Spanish language. Later I became interested in the literature of Spain and Spanish America. Benito Pérez Galdós, the nineteenth-century Spanish writer, particularly interested me. His pre-Freudian insight into the human psyche is surprising. I was especially intrigued by the way traumatic events in his youth obsessively, probably unconsciously, appeared over and over in his novels, usually disguised as socio-political themes. Many of his novels lend themselves to Jungian interpretation. It was my interest in these matters that led me to the research and close reading that resulted in Libido into Literature: The "Primera Epoca"of Benito Pérez Galdós.

"The first book of mine to be published was my translation of Fernando Sorrentino's series of interviews with the great Argentine writer, Jorge Luis Borges. Sorrentino had read my review of the original Spanish interviews and wrote to thank me for the positive comments. We began a correspondence and friendship that has continued up to the present. At one point he invited me to translate those interviews, and I was thrilled to accept.

"Borges fascinated me from the moment I read one of his short stories. I then had to read every short story he ever wrote, as well as his essays and poetry. The way in which Borges breaks down the barriers between the real world and the fictional world, between factual essay and fanciful fiction, fascinates and sometimes bewilders the reader. A desire to understand and explain how Borges accomplishes these things is behind my research on his work and finally my own interview with him.

"My interest in Borges led me into reading the works of other contemporary Argentine writers and to write about them and translate some of them. At one point I felt I needed to go to Argentina and Uruguay to feel the pulse of daily life in those countries, to understand the relationships among the authors there, and to speak to those writers and get to know the people behind them. This interest led to Voices of the River Plate: Interviews with Writers of Argentina and Uruguay.

"My reading of Spanish-language writers, including those who were practically unknown outside their native land, stimulated me to make some of their work available to an English-speaking public. Translation is a challenge: how to bring out the flavor of the original while making it sound as though it were written originally in English.

"Julio Ricci was a short-story writer deeply concerned with those who have in one way or another been alienated from society. His love for humanity informs all his work, and his sense of humor, sometimes wry, at times frank and open, informs his production. Throughout his fiction, the greatest treasures are love and friendship; the greatest pain is caused by the fleeting quality of time, which removes friends. I translated seven selected stories by Ricci; these form the book Falling through the Cracks: Short Stories of Julio Ricci.

"At a certain point I felt that, rather than explain or translate the works of others, it was time to release my own inner demons. I've had the desire to write fiction at least since high school, but I kept putting it off for more 'practical' things. There's something about writing fiction that sweeps me away from the daily routine and draws me into another world. Sometimes it seems as if the piece of fiction were writing me, rather than vice versa. I write my short stories in English and Spanish, going back and forth between languages while polishing. One is never exactly a translation of the other, since each language requires a different slant. Strangely, my Spanish versions were published in Latin America in prestigious magazines such as Plural in Mexico, Letras de Buenos Aires in Argentina, and Foro Literario in Uruguay, before my English stories were published, even though English is my native language. I'm sure my Spanish versions can't possibly be as good as those in my native language, so it's a mystery to me why I've had more success with the stories in Spanish. Perhaps my experience with Spanish-language literature has had an influence on my writing, resulting in short fiction that is closer to Latin-American taste than to Anglo predilections.

"Writing action/thriller novels like Dire Straits is a different activity from writing short stories. I'm much more personally involved in my short fiction; the stories are more serious, deeper, more 'literary.' I hope they stir the reader's deepest emotions, provide a new viewpoint on life. On the other hand, writing the action/thriller novel is more like playing a game; it's fun while I'm doing it, and it does provide catharsis for whatever violent impulses I may have. These novels deal with espionage, terrorism, the possibility of nuclear, chemical, and biological warfare, within the context of the volatile political-military situations in today's world. I hope they provide suspense, the exhilaration of the battle between good and evil, vicarious adventure—entertainment.

Regarding Dire Straits, the author commented: "While it is fiction, this novel, written before the attacks of September 11, 2001, refers to links with Osama bin Laden and other terrorist leaders. It has been called prophetic, but it's merely a matter of paying close attention to news stories coming out of the Middle East, no matter how significant they seem."

"I have written a mainstream novel, After Carmen. It is about a group of young people who are in their senior year of high school in 1950, and it follows their lives through the fifties and part of the sixties. Their thinking and behavior are heavily influenced by the motion pictures they see, until finally they break out of this pattern and mature emotionally. The novel looks at the mores of the era, the racism, and the sexism. While my imagination carries me along unsuspected paths, it forces me to dredge up memories of my youth in the fifties. The novel includes love, drugs, death, adventure on the high seas, humor, and a glimpse of Havana night-life on the eve of the Castro revolution. Since the novel doesn't fit easily into any specific genre, it is not likely ever to be published.

Zlotchhew recently added: "My book Alpha Teach Yourself Spanish in 24 Hours is meant for those who have no time for classes and teachers, but who are motivated to learn the language. Grammatical concepts and usage are explained in detail, with examples given. Using this book, one can build a solid Spanish vocabulary for business, school, travel, leisure, or social situations."



Percival, Anthony, Galdós and His Critics, University of Toronto Press (Buffalo, NY), 1985.


Anales Galdosianos, 1994-95, Vernon A. Chamberlin, review of Libido into Literature: The "Primera Epoca" of Benito Pérez Galdós.

Choice, March, 1982, review of Seven Conversations with Jorge Luis Borges; January, 1990, review of Falling through the Cracks: Short Stories of Julio Ricci.

Hispania, May, 1983, review of Seven Conversations with Jorge Luis Borges; September, 1995, Stephen Miller, review of Libido into Literature.