A Historian Embraces Age and Fiction
Madville Publishing

A Historian Embraces Age and Fiction

Tom Shachtman of Salisbury, Conn.,  has a new novel, "Echoes, or The Insistence of Memory." He will be at the Scoville Memorial Library in Salisbury on Tuesday, Sept. 26, at 6 p.m., to read from the book and participate in a discussion led by Bruce McEver.

In "Echoes," the protagonist, Ell (short for Sue-Ellen) is a young woman of white and Mexican heritage with a master's degree in writing under her belt, a children's book published, another in the works, and a documentary film she can't sell.

She also has a boyfriend who has "ghosted" her, she worries about making the rent, and is troubled by a recurring, unpleasant dream.

To top it all off she is digging into her family history and discovering that her ancestors were slaveholders.

Ell wonders if she should announce her family history on social media and risk blowback.

In a phone conversation Sunday, Sept. 17, Shachtman was asked if he was worried that someone might accuse him of cultural appropriation for writing about this particular woman.

"I don't know," he said. "It's not demeaning in any way. If someone wants to accuse me, I cant prevent it."

The story moves from straightforward third-person narration into a screenplay format, as Ell imagines her life in cinematic form.

Asked about this device, Shachtman said that over the course of the story, Ell phases out the screenplay musings as part of her process of self-examination.

It's something he knows about. 

"She's a graduate of a master's program in writing. I'm a graduate of one, and have taught in them."

Shachtman also has a long-standing interest in dreams. 

"They come from something we don't recognize, they come from way back. I looked for a long while for a story to cloak it in."

Shachtman has had a varied career, including works of fiction, non-fiction, memoir and screenplays.

Asked why he ventured on a novel at this point, he said having just wrapped up a 10 year, three volume history on the American Revolution, he was looking for a change.

"At my terribly advanced age I am letting my fiction stuff come to the fore."

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