I have tried to capture, in my novels, what it is like to live through the upheavals of social change in the America of the last sixty years. I abhor the rigid dogmas of both left and right which have polarized our country and sent truth into hiding; these are stories of the human heart in conflict. For me, that is what it means to be an American.
I was born, raised, and educated in Chicago, during the Depression and World War II, which means I was introduced early to the teaming diversity of the city–an experience that later found its expression in The Inheritors.
I raised my family in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which put my family dead center in the upheavals of war protest and civil rights. Both of these left me with a deep fascination with American culture. It was during that latter struggle that I discovered I wanted to write, and my first book, Nowhere Else To Go, attempted to capture the experience of both adults and children, but especially the children, caught up in that chaos.
By the end of that period, I found myself divorced with two teenagers, so writing took a back seat to teaching; I taught writing at the Universities of Michigan and then at the University of California, Santa Barbara, a very different culture. I found myself, as always, occupying a gulf between the academic life I was born into and the lived experience I wrote about, thus was at home in culture conflict. Life in this paradise of the West led to Home Fires.
Now, in what is undoubtedly the final quarter of my life, I live in the Northwest, which reminds me of northern Michigan, but without the harsh winters, has the relaxed informality of the West, but unlike California still has seasons. The culture of this uniquely beautiful corner of the country celebrates the magnificence of the surrounding wilderness, a deeply American place. I now live on Puget Sound, sharing my life with an old friend and three basenjis—and write.
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