Monday, January 20, 2014

Michele Zackheim

Michele Zackheim is the author of four books. Born in Reno, Nevada she grew up in Compton, California. For many years she worked in the visual arts as a fresco muralist, an installation artist, print-maker, and a painter. Her work has been widely exhibited and is included in the permanent collections of The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.; The Albuquerque Museum; The Grey Art Gallery of New York University; The New York Public Library; The Hebrew Union College Skirball Museum, and The Carlsbad Museum of Art. She has been the recipient of two NEA awards, and teaches Creative Writing from a Visual Perspective at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Of her transition from visual artist to author she writes: “Over time, random words began to appear on my canvases…then poems…then elaborate fragments of narratives. I began to think more about writing and less about the visual world. Finally, I simply wrote myself off the canvas and onto the lavender quadrille pages of a bright orange notebook. This first book, Violette’s Embrace, was published by Riverhead Books.” That book is a fictional biography of the French writer Violette Leduc. Her second book, the acclaimed Einstein’s Daughter: The Search for Lieserl (Penguin Putnam, 1999), is a non-fiction account of the mystery of the lost illegitimate daughter of Mileva and Albert Einstein. Broken Colors (Europa Editions, 2007) is the story of an artist, whose life takes her to a place where life and art intersect. Her fourth novel, Last Train to Paris, was published in January 2014. Zackheim lives in New York City.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Zackheim's reply:
It’s hard to put this book down. To be honest, it’s also hard to hold this book up! Antonio Muñoz Molina’s In the Night of Time, translated from the Spanish by the esteemed Edith Grossman, is 641 pages long, with small borders and not a pica of wasted space. But it’s not only dense visually; it’s solid with ideas and generous and astonishing writing.

Here is part of my favorite paragraph so far: He extracted a match from its box with care, as if he were removing a dried butterfly whose wings could be destroyed if handled too casually, held it between his thumb and index finger, showed it to the students, raising it in a somewhat liturgical gesture. He pondered its qualities, the delicate, diminutive pear shape of the head. When he struck the match, the tiny sound of the match head running along the thin strip of sandpaper was heard with perfect clarity in the silence of the hall, and the small burst of flame seemed like a miracle.

You will have to read the book to find out what happened after the professor lit the match....
Visit Michele Zackheim's website.

My Book, The Movie: Last Train to Paris.

--Marshal Zeringue