A FEW WORDS ABOUT NOMADS from Carol Bergman

What is this collection? What is it about? Describing it to my agent, I have to platform: It's like Lydia Davis. Or it's like Czeslaw Milosz. But also, it's not. Let me explain.

Lydia Davis, former wife of Paul Auster and a well-known translator (French/​English), has received a lot of attention. I had one of her volumes on my Kindle, the other I bought in hard cover after hearing her read at the PEN World Voices Festival. Unexpectedly--because I usually find her work austere, even cold--I found her very funny. I thought, my goodness, all these years I have been writing similar, much warmer "stories" and wondering how to classify them so they could be published. Are they prose poems? Flash fiction? Mini-essays? Probably, all of the above.

I write them betwixt and between other projects, as the muse hits. When I was working on "Another Day in Paradise; International Humanitarian Workers Tell Their Stories," I wrote many aphoristic "somethings," about war, for example. Some of these are re-worked and collected here. A few have been published. Or, I might write a paean to a mountain, or a tongue-in-cheek description of a breast augmentation advertisement in the subway.

After the Lydia Davis reading, I pulled out my folders and took a look at these scribblings--nearly 150 of them, I'd say-- and I started to revise them. I'm older and, I hope, a more evolved writer than I was years ago, so the stories changed as soon as I began the first sentence. And that has been an interesting process; going back to old work and making it work.

At a reading at the Cornelia Street Café on January 6th, I listened as seasoned actors read 18 of the pieces in the collection. It was the first time I had collaborated with actors on a project, and it was brilliant, as the Brits say. I thank them all--Constance George, Stephanie Stone and Burke Walker-- for their enthusiasm and effort. They've set me onto a new--theatrical-- path.







Carol Bergman’s articles, essays, and interviews have appeared in The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, and Salon.com. Her essay, “Objects of Desire” was nominated for the Pushcart Prize; her short stories have appeared in many literary magazines. She is the author of biographies of Mae West and Sidney Poitier, a memoir, Searching for Fritzi, two books of novellas, Sitting for Klimt and Water Baby and two novels, Say Nothing and What Returns to Us. She compiled and edited Another Day in Paradise; International Humanitarian Workers Tell Their Stories, nominated for the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize. She lives in New York City and teaches writing at New York University.