Books by Helen Schulman

COME WITH ME by Helen Schulman
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 27, 2018

"Richly imagined, profound, and of the moment."
A Palo Alto-set domestic drama with a touch of sci-fi: What if the results of one's life choices could be explored not only in daydreams, but with a virtual reality-type app that generates personal "multiverses"? Read full book review >
A DAY AT THE BEACH by Helen Schulman
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: June 1, 2007

"Schulman (P.S., 2004, etc.) succeeds in creating an identifiable emotional landscape out of an incomprehensible tragedy."
On September 11, a Manhattan family escapes to the Hamptons as the Twin Towers fall. Read full book review >
P.S. by Helen Schulman
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 10, 2001

"The back-from-the-dead premise is such a stretch, and Louise is so whining, wheedling, groveling, and desperately seeking that—in her own description—she lacks dignity. Which goes to the heart of why it's so hard to like her."
Novelist/nonfiction author Schulman (The Revisionist, 1998, etc.) offers yet another tale of an angst-ridden late-thirtysomething obsessing about relationships. Read full book review >
THE REVISIONIST by Helen Schulman
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 2, 1998

Second-novelist Schulman (Out of Time, 1991) offers a tragicomedy about a doctor whose marital problems trigger a radical reevaluation of his entire life. David Hershleder is a 39-year-old neurologist and son of a Holocaust survivor who's going through a midlife crisis. His marriage is disintegrating. He finds it increasingly difficult to focus on his patients. He prefers to immerse himself in library research. He has the nagging feeling that he's picking up all the habits he found off-putting about his father. In a strange and circuitous attempt to revive his marriage and rediscover himself, he becomes interested in tracking down and speaking to a onetime Holocaust denier who has recently published a massive tome (translated by an old schoolfriend of Hershleder's) in which he reverses himself and declares the historical truth of the extermination of the Six Million. Accompanied by another old friend (who, like the translator, is also named David), Hershleder goes to Los Angeles and then to Paris to confront the apostate racist with the hope of discovering how it's possible to turn one's life completely around. On this slender and somewhat improbable thread, Schulman builds an intelligent, intermittently funny, but ultimately unsatisfying story whose major plot twists are too easily predictable. Although handled with seeming decency and taste, the Holocaust theme, juxtaposed with Hershleder's more mundane problems, seems forced and almost exploitative. The novel veers between a Jewish take on the Cheever-Updike world of dysfunctional suburbia (including a trick chapter ending that echoes "The Swimmer") and a vaguely Philip Rothian concern with the more unpleasant manifestations of the weakness of the flesh. Unfortunately, Schulman lacks the wry understatement of Cheever, the sheer word-drunkenness of Updike, and the overpowering brio of Roth. A minor addition to the fiction memorializing Jewish suburban-American angst. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: May 1, 1998

Yet another well-crafted single-subject essay collection, this one about the difficulties of becoming parents. Poet Bialosky and novelist Schulman (Out of Time, 1991, etc.) have assembled the works of 22 writers that reveal how for them, like many who have the natural desire for children, "things don't come as easily or as quickly as we once imagined they would." They show that the obstacles touch families of all kinds, including straight, gay, step-families, and single parents, and spring from several sources—postponement of pregnancy, a late marriage, no marriage, adoption agency horrors. For Bob Shacochis, the issue is in the couple's inability to conceive; for Steve Byrnes, it's surrogacy for a same-sex family; for Tama Janowitz, it's an adoption in China; for Phillip Lopate, it's a young daughter's chronic illness; for Bialosky, it's honoring two infant deaths. Some tales are harrowing, some joyful; but none are simple. And all, no matter the situation, incorporate Barbara Jones's observation about parental obsession—that "once you have thought of her as yours . . . nothing will stop you from wanting her. And only some terrible force outside of your control will prevent you from having her." Yet despite the diversity in experience and notion of family, there are similarities of age and outlook that readers may find either reassuring or redundant. These works hold the views of a reflective middle age. Just as similar are the narrators: Articulate, analytical, they often live hand-to-mouth and keep odd schedules—why, they're writers! Anyone looking for the experiences of a lawyer or sales clerk will have to wait for an oral history or an afternoon talk show. For those in prime parenting years who have faced such trials, these are voices of comfort and wonder. Read full book review >
OUT OF TIME by Helen Schulman
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 1, 1991

A story collection, lamely masquerading as a novel, that revolves around (and around) the death of Kenneth Gordon Gold, aged 20, who drove his car down an empty road straight into a tree. Speaking now in the first person, now in the third, now when they are young, now older, now before the accident occurred, now 30 years after it took place, Ken's relatives, friends, lovers, and some who never knew him throw light on the accident but no illumination. Angles abound; vision is wanting. Ken's surviving family—Hannah, the mother who moans but never genuinely mourns; Jack, the father who skips out; Doug, the eldest brother who finally and endlessly cries, but without convincing grief; Cara, the neurotic sister; Jeremy, the homosexual younger brother—all subscribe to the same dismal theory (perhaps because they are all the same dismal person) that good fortune lies in having no family. Jack refers to his second wife's child as: ``...Mags, that fortunate only child.'' Jeremy wishes his father had been hit by a bus before he married his mother, then none of them would have been born. Although Schulman (Not a Free Show, 1988) occasionally comes up with a nice image, her men, women, children, straights and gays all sound alike, and her dialogue is uniformly banal. ``Between the two of us there have been enough tears around here to last a lifetime,'' says Jim in ``Boy Girl, Boy Girl.'' Says Sylvia in ``This is The Life:'' ``If Ken hadn't died I bet my whole life would have been different.'' A disappointing second effort. Read full book review >