Zen for Ten 29: “The Truth About Me”

Today on the Storytelling and Sound series, in which musical and verbal storytelling come together, I’m delighted to feature the work of my colleague and friend Louise Marburg. Louise and I met at the 2013 Sewanee Writers’ Conference and were back in workshop together this past summer at the Kenyon Review Writers Workshops.

Louise’s debut story collection, The Truth About Me, was released earlier this month by WTAW Press. When my copy of the collection arrived, I devoured it in less than twenty-four hours. The stories are extraordinary: wise and incisive, the characters drawn vividly and with great sensitivity, every piece in the collection infused with a wonderfully wry and authentic narrative voice. Each piece is told with subtlety, grace, and great power, and shows an enviable depth of empathy and human connection.

In today’s video, I’m reading the beginning of the title story, “The Truth About Me.” Consider this a teaser to encourage you to get the collection and check out the rest of the story, and its companions!

I’ve paired the writing with two short selections by Baroque-era composer J. S. Bach: the two-part Inventions in F and C minor, respectively. I chose this music because the mood of it suited the story, and also because the story itself – as with many in Louise’s collection – is about dialogue between people as they learn about and connect with one another. The musical structure of the Bach parallels that dialogue. In the two-part Inventions, the pianist’s right and left hands work independently of each other. You can pull out the tune played by each hand, and hear how each tune works by itself and sounds like a coherent melody. Then, when you put the parts together, they trade melodies back and forth and intertwine with one another just as two voices do in a conversation.

Enjoy the video, and be sure to stop by Louise’s website and learn more about her. See you next time!

About the Writer:

Louise Marburg is a graduate of the MFA program in Fiction at Columbia University’s School of the Arts. Her work has appeared in The Louisville Review, Folio, Carolina Quarterly, Day One, The Pinch, and others, and in the Lascaux Prize Anthology. She has been a contributor at the Sewanee Writer’s Conference and a member of the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. She lives with her husband, the painter Charles Marburg, in New York City. Her new collection of stories, The Truth About Me, was recently published by WTAW Press. Find her at louisemarburg.com


Writers! Would you like to contribute your work for the Storytelling and Sound series? (You provide the words, I provide the live reading and the music.) Email me at kris@krisfaatz.com for info.

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Storytelling and Sound fans: if you haven’t done it yet, don’t forget to check out music-inspired To Love A Stranger!


Zen for Ten 28: Chopin and To Love A Stranger

Today’s post features an excerpt from Chapter 4 of To Love A Stranger, paired with two short excerpts from Frederic Chopin‘s Nocturne in B flat Minor, Op. 9 no. 1.

The excerpt from Stranger is told from the point of view of Jeannette Reilly, one of my two main characters. Jeannette has just started working as piano accompanist for the Richmond Symphonic Artists and has met their new director, Sam Kraychek. Jeannette is a shy, withdrawn woman who has overcome a lot to find her first “real” gig as a pianist.

She finds herself immediately attracted to Sam, who, like her, is passionately devoted to music. Her sister Veronica encourages her in this attraction, but Jeannette finds it dangerous and unsettling. She’s afraid to trust another person, especially one she barely knows.

Chapter 4 takes place during a break in a rehearsal Jeannette is accompanying for Sam. Right before the rehearsal, Jeannette’s sister Veronica insisted on giving Jeannette a makeover to make her more interesting to “that boy.” At rehearsal, Jeannette finds that Sam has in fact noticed her; he asks her to come early to the next rehearsal so they can play duets beforehand. Jeannette knows she ought to be thrilled about this, but her past experience has taught her how dangerous it can be to stand out and be noticed, and especially to make herself vulnerable by caring about someone.

During the rehearsal break, Jeannette finds a quiet space to get her thoughts together. At the same time, though, she takes in exactly what her sister has done to her looks. Jeannette’s new appearance brings back past shadows that she has tried to escape from, but can never completely leave behind.

Chopin’s B flat Minor Nocturne is a haunting, lyrical piece, less noticeable for the flashy writing Chopin often used than for a gentle, introspective quality that pairs well with this scene from Stranger.

As always, thank you for visiting the blog! Next time, the Storytelling and Sound series will feature work by Louise Marburg, whose debut story collection The Truth About Me launches this week. Until then!

Don’t have your copy of To Love A Stranger? Get it here.

Writers! Would you like to contribute your work for the Storytelling and Sound series? (You provide the words, I provide the live reading and the music.) Email me at kris@krisfaatz.com for info.