LOST PATH TO SOLITUDE
(A Follow-Up to Dogs With Bagels)
Maria Elena Sandovici
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Date of Publication: February 12, 2016
# of pages: 315
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Once you leave home, can you ever return? Two characters, mother and daughter, contemplate this question in Lost Path to Solitude. Twenty-five years after leaving Romania in order to follow the man she loves to New York, Maria Pop still struggles with accepting her decision. She is determined to go back and recapture the poetry and joy of life in Bucharest, even at the expense of risking her marriage. Meanwhile, her daughter, Liliana, second-guesses her own choice of moving to a small town in Southeast Texas, ironically called Solitude, where she finds herself lonely, bored, and nostalgic for the fast pace of life in New York City. Facing the claustrophobic social climate of a town that goes to bed early, as well as the constrictions of her emerging academic career, Liliana longs for something that would give her existence meaning. The parallel soul-searching and the frustration they experience does little to bring mother and daughter closer. Instead, as each struggles with finding her own place in the world, they become increasingly critical of each other. Will their relationship survive the growing pains they each must suffer in their quest for self-fulfillment?
How long have you been writing?
Since I was eight. My first book was cringe-worthy. My mother kept it until I seized and destroyed it. I’m not sorry.
What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was least useful or most destructive?
Two books helped a lot: Stephen King’s On Writing, and the classic Elements of Style by Strunk and White. I recommend these to all writers.
I can’t say anything was destructive. We all have inner demons that hold us back, make us question ourselves, and keep us from writing. Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way can help overcome such impediments. Other than internal factors, such as being stuck, anything one gets exposed to can help. Even reading bad writing can hone one’s aesthetic sensibility. Especially reading one’s own bad writing, armed with a will to improve it, and with the knowledge that persistent editing will make it better.
What cultural value do you see in writing/reading/storytelling/etc.?
Is entertainment a cultural value? I hope so. Beyond entertainment, though, stories are about emotions. A good story should help us put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and feel what they feel with such intensity that it leaves us changed, capable of greater understanding and empathy for the human species.
Who are some of your favorite authors you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?
I love Jane Smiley. There’s a simplicity about her writing that I adore. But ultimately as we grow as writers, we become more and more ourselves
What do you like to read in your free time?
I like to read fiction. I must read every day. I prefer novels written by women where the characters are female. I like complex characters, characters that are flawed, and therefore make interesting mistakes. I can’t read books where everybody’s virtuous and behaves as they should.
What literary character is most like you?
Do you have any strange writing habits you’d like to share with your readers?
In a pinch, I’ll write on the Notes app in my phone. I’ve written entire chapters of novels that way.
Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?
What do your plans for future projects include?
I want to publish a book of poetry in my dog’s voice. I love thinking of the ways in which she perceives the world.
Maria Elena Sandovici moved to Texas on a Greyhound bus in the summer of 2005. It would be the beginning of a great adventure. Born in Bucharest, Romania, a place she loves and where she returns often, she’d spend the requisite time in Manhattan to call herself a New Yorker, but also to know she was looking for something else. Her debut novel, Dogs with Bagels, is very much a New York story: the story of an immigrant family forging new identities for themselves in the city that never sleeps.
Her second novel, Stray Dogs and Lonely Beaches, is the story of a young woman traveling the world in search of herself. This theme persists in Lost Path to Solitude, her third novel, in which characters suffering an identity crisis are caught in a search for the ideal place to call home. Three locales dominate the story: New York City, Bucharest, and an imaginary, caricaturized town in Southeast Texas, called Solitude.
In addition to writing fiction, Maria Elena Sandovici paints every day. She has a studio at Hardy and Nance Studios in Houston, and also shows her daily watercolors on her blog, Have Watercolors Will Travel, accompanied by essays about whatever inspires or obsesses her at any given moment.
To support her art and writing, she teaches Political Science at Lamar University. She is also the well-behaved human of a feisty little dog.
Her favorite places in Texas are Houston and Galveston.
GIVEAWAY! TWO WINNERS EACH RECEIVE COPIES OF BOTH DOGS WITH BAGELS & LOST PATH TO SOLITUDE
May 23 – June 1, 2016
Check out the other great blogs on the tour!
5/23 Missus Gonzo – Review
5/24 It’s a Jenn World – Author Interview #1
5/25 Country Girl Bookaholic – Promo
5/26 Forgotten Winds — Review
5/27 Texas Book Lover – Guest Post #1
5/28 My Book Fix Blog – Excerpt
5/29 Hall Ways Blog – Review
5/30 The Page Unbound – Author Interview #2
5/31 StoreyBook Reviews – Review
6/1 A Novel Reality – Guest Post #2
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