Edward Schwarzschild
THE FAMILY DIAMOND, Stories

Reviews

The Family Diamond

"In The Family Diamond...Edward Schwarzschild squarely faces obdurate aspects of life—illness, aging and death—with curiosity, respect and humor. He is the sort of fiction writer whose prose is so lucid, psychology so convincing, characters and action so surprising and intriguing, you forget you're reading. But for all their beguilement, these are unsparing tales of yearning and regret....Schwarzschild's collection will have the sharpest impact on readers dealing with age, either their own or their parents'. But what Schwarzschild does most daringly is to reveal that tenderness, a trivialized emotion, is, in fact, a radical, life-altering force."

Donna Seaman, The Chicago Tribune [Read the full review]

"The trials and tribulations of relationships are at the heart of this collection of nine tales of modern life; sparkling with wit, compassion, and sometimes whimsy, the vivid characters will not be quickly forgotten.... Schwarzschild has a hit with his second work; the writing is polished, well paced, and exceptional. Heartily recommended."

Library Journal

"The bonds of love are alternately tenuous and tensile in Schwarzschild's acutely observed and quietly affecting stories."

Publishers Weekly

"In his award-winning debut novel, Responsible Men, Edward Schwarzschild describes the ingredients for a perfect Philly cheesesteak: 'Fresh rolls from D'Ambrosia Bakery, warming in the oven. Thin steaks sizzling on the grill, right beside piles of chopped sweet onions, browned for hours. Homemade tomato sauce bubbling away in a pot on the stove.' Caleb, an old man who has just lost his brother, savors his Supreme cheesesteak, 'the sting of the peppers, the sugary onions, the richness of tomato sauce. He took small bites, wanting to make it last.'

"That's how you should read Schwarzschild's new short story collection, The Family Diamond: in small bites, savoring its richness, making it last. This collection provides real emotional, intellectual, and aesthetic nourishment, never offering simplistic resolutions to complex situations....'Nothing is so difficult to write well as a realistic story about ordinary people. Schwarzschild creates nine such stories here. He does it without trickery. He doesn't need fancy narrative footwork. No smoke. No mirrors. Nothing up the writer's sleeve. Nothing on his sleeve, either, except for his heart. Schwarzschild's stories have great heart. And great art—art that is all but invisible. In prose so elegant and so transparent that you hardly notice it, these stories simply unfold before your eyes, compelling and utterly real."

Chronogram (Read the full review)

"In this book of semi-related short stories about family relationships...the author's sincerity and strong characters combine for an enjoyable read....What really makes it a Philadelphia book is its pride in the ties that bind us, epitomized by the Mark Twain epigraph: "In Boston they ask, how much does he know? In New York, how much is he worth? In Philadelphia, who were his parents?" Grade = A-

Philadelphia Magazine

"Deserves a standing ovation."

Daily Candy, Philadelphia

"In his polished new book of short stories, Ed Schwarzschild, author of the award-winning novel Responsible Men... tenderly depicts the aged as still-sentient beings filled with complex yearnings. This surprisingly sweet collection features senior citizens who grapple with their mortality but then wriggle free to explore life's trajectories."

The Miami Herald

"This sparkling, touching story collection, set in the Philadelphia environs, celebrates family in all its messy glory."

Jewish Book World

"Linked by the author's generous attention to his characters and by the mixture of generations and cultures that enrich them, these nine stories sparkle with humor, insight, and heart."

The Boston Globe

"Edward Schwarzschild is the most exciting young writer I've read, and The Family Diamond shows again that he is a maven of the human heart. Each story is as satisfying as a full moon: tales like "Open Heart" and "Spring Garden" appear on the readers' horizon, rising with awe and renewal, and long after you reach their last words, you feel their over-the-shoulder glow lighting the way. Schwarzschild casts this same warm attention across his characters—the lovers, the lonely, and the wandering forlorn—bringing them into our vision with insight, understanding, constancy and grace."

Adam Johnson, author of Emporium and Parasites Like Us

"Edward Schwarzschild's flesh-and-blood characters (like the wonderfully perceptive and emphatic, recurring Milly) bring us into a world in which tightly bound families and enduring marriages are always threatened, either by violence from outside forces or by their own destructive impulses—as in life itself! These are absorbing, transporting tales of a mix of generations and cultures—from Odessa to the fringes of Philadelphia—that is ever so American and at the same time universal."

Lydia Davis, author of Break It Down, The End of the Story, and Samuel Johnson is Indignant

"The beautiful stories in this collection emerge like figures appearing in the dark. They are keyed to a somber register, acquainting us with characters who are elderly, down on their luck, or simply neglected. But Schwarzschild writes about them with such wit and compassion that soon we not only recognize them, we see ourselves in their world."

Jonathan Rosen, author of Eve's Apple, The Talmud and the Internet, and Joy Comes in the Morning

"It is always difficult to characterize a book of short of stories in a sound-bite, especially one as generous and full of soul as Edward Schwarzschild's The Family Diamond. There is, as one of his characters says, 'No wasted motion' here. An achingly beautiful collection."

Peter Orner, author of Esther Stories and The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo