A conversation with Eileen Pollack and JoEllen Vinyard.
Set against the tragic events of the Oklahoma City bombings, Breaking and Entering follows Christian/Jewish couple Louise and Richard Shapiro as they move from California to rural Michigan with their daughter Molly in an attempt to save their marriage. They find their core beliefs about life and love tested as school counselor Louise's students blame Satan for their homosexuality while Richard's new buddies gather arms to defend themselves against enemies at home and abroad. Pollack's America is divided and splintered, yet she writes with hope and humor...Breaking and Entering challenges the stereotypes we hold about our fellow Americans, reminding us of the unexpected bonds that can form across the divide between so-called Red and Blue states.
Eileen Pollack is the Zell Director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Michigan. She was born and grew up in Liberty, N.Y., the heart of the Jewish Catskills, where her grandparents owned and operated a small hotel and her father was the town dentist. A graduate of Yale University with a BS in physics, Eileen later earned an MFA from the University of Iowa, where she was awarded a Teaching-Writing Fellowship. She is also the author of a collection of short fiction, The Rabbi in the Attic And Other Stories, a novel, Paradise, New York, and a work of creative nonfiction called Woman Walking Ahead: In Search of Catherine Weldon and Sitting Bull, which won a 2003 WILLA finalist award. She has received numerous fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Michener Foundation, the Rona Jaffe Foundation, and the Massachusetts Arts Council. Her stories have appeared in journals such as Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Michigan Quarterly Review, SubTropics, Agni, and New England Review; her novella "The Bris" was chosen to appear in the Best American Short Stories 2007 anthology, edited by Stephen King, while her stories have been awarded two Pushcart Prizes, the Cohen Award for best fiction of the year from Ploughshares, and similar awards from Literary Review and MQR.
JoEllen Vinyard, professor of history at Eastern Michigan University, specializes in U.S. social and immigration history. Her teaching focuses especially on the history of Michigan and Detroit, with classes that often include trips by bus to tour sites around the state and throughout metropolitan Detroit. She also teaches grad classes in history of the family, ante-bellum reform movements, and techniques of local history, and she directs the internship program.