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The Sweetheart Is In Hardcover – May 6, 2001

4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Traditional Jewish storytelling is given a vibrant new twist in The Sweetheart Is In, a witty and intimate debut collection of short stories by S.L. Wisenberg. Ceci Rubin, the protagonist of a series of linked tales, is a typical heroine: daughter of a soldier who liberated Mauthausen, she grows up in Texas, then moves to Chicago, where she falls in love with a religious Jewish woman, who is oblivious to Ceci's feelings. In pithy prose and brief paragraphs, Wisenberg documents the secret hopes and fears of her characters, many practicing Jews, others mindful of their heritage.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Booklist

Wisenberg presents a tart first collection of short stories concerned with the threads that hold families together. The stories in the book's first part examine the lives of an upper-class Jewish family in suburban Houston. Each family member is reeling from the effects of some great social trauma--the liberation of the Holocaust camps, the Vietnam War, and the changing sexual mores of the 1960s. Ceci, the youngest daughter, transforms from a precocious girl reciting Eleanor Roosevelt's memoirs in talent contests to a news reporter struggling to remove herself from a string of failed love affairs. Her mother, a woman of considerable girth, has a placid demeanor that belies her sharp wit and frustrated sexuality, and her father, after serving in World War II, has declined into prosperity as a soap suds mogul. The stories in part 2 subvert biblical and fairy tale archetypes and are distinguished by keen insight. With humor and wisdom, Wisenberg charts the small misfortunes and heartbreaks that a lifetime contains and gives readers sharply drawn characters they will enjoy meeting. Brendan Dowling
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 139 pages
  • Publisher: Triquarterly; 1 edition (May 6, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810151081
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810151086
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,501,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I'm the author of two collections, The Sweetheart Is In, and Holocaust Girls: History, Memory, & Other Obsessions, and the recently published The Adventures of Cancer Bitch,
based on my blog. I grew up in Houston and live in Chicago. My M.F.A. is in fiction from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop; my B.S. is in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism. I was a reporter for the Miami Herald and I've published prose and poetry in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Tikkun, New England Review, Michigan Quarterly Review and many other places. I've had work in anthologies, most recently in Rules of Thumb: 73 Authors Reveal Their Fiction Writing Fixations (Writer's Digest) and Short Takes: Brief Encounters with Contemporary Nonfiction (Norton) and Creating Nonfiction: A Guide and Anthology (Bedford/ St. Martin's) . I've had work more or less recently in Lilith, River Teeth, Fourth Genre, the Pinch, Crab Orchard Review and Colorado Review, Common Review and The Progressive. Fiction is forthcoming in Prairie Schooner and the Seattle Review. I've also been a blogger for The Huffington Post. I'm the creative nonfiction editor of Another Chicago Magazine and co-director of Northwestern's M.A./M.F.A. in Creative Writing program. I also teach in the University of Chicago's Graham School of General Studies, in the certificate program in creative writing. I've received a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and the National Endowment for the Humanities. I was the graduate faculty recipient of the 2006-2007 Distinguished Teaching Award, presented by Northwestern University's School of Continuing Studies. E-mail me at SLwisenberg (at)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
S.L. Wisenberg's collection of short stories, The Sweetheart Is In, is divided into two parts. Part one consists of a look into familial and human relationships while part two continues on with more emphasis placed on God and religion. The stories vary in length from two, to thirteen pages. Each one could stand alone but together they strengthen and reinforce one another.
In part one, Wisenberg gracefully moves from one short story to the next using first, second and third person points of view to provide an almost three dimensional view of one family's relationships, peppered with Jewish life, humor and wit. At times it is even poetic. The family is in essence a vehicle for Wisenberg to cover a broad range of topics including; the death of a parent; the search for and the loss of romantic love; suppresed female sexuality; the search for one's self on many levels; the balancing of dreams for the future with one's station in life and the opposing views of a lover. Of particular note are two short stories in the first part. One, titled Love, is a fresh look at unrequainted love while the other, titled The Last Day of the World, is a look into the desire to end consequences rather than life itself.
The second part of the collection, while still strong in it's parllels of modern relationships with Biblical scenes and figures, is shorter than and pales in comparison to the first part. Which is not to say it is without it's merits. The first short story, in the second part, is a brilliant view of the defiance of patriarchy and the illusion of happiness as paralleled in a metaphor of the Garden of Eden.
In one line (page 77) Wisenberg writes, "the role of the to find the universality of mankind." As a whole, The Sweetheart Is In, swims in skillfully crafted topics universal to all, thus confirming Wisenberg's role as an artist.
As a writer I am not only inspired but jealous that I didn't write this collection.
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By A Customer on October 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
S.L. Wisenberg, in her collection of stories, which come together to show how a young girl's life is shaped by her religion/culture and by her parent's upbringing, gives fiction a new twist. Although Wisenberg's stories are fiction, the way in which she presents them is so raw and honest that the stories appear to be true. This is especially the case in the beginning of the book in which Wisenberg's character Ruthie, "imagines sex without pain." In The Sweetheart Is In, Wisenberg tells of an upper class Jewish family that lives in the suburb of Houston. While the stories introduce all of the members of the family and other characters related to them, they focus primarily on Ceci, the younger of the two daughters in the Jewish family. More specifically, the stories attempt to show Ceci's journey through life, as she learns more about the world and her religion, and uses these tools to become whom she is. The stories begin in her childhood when she has just begun to explore who she is, both mentally and physically and end years later when she is grown up and has come to understand more about who she is and how she has grown to be this person. In her childhood, she encounters incidents with boys, events that mark her womanhood, and talent shows, which allow her to make some decisions about what life is like. For the most part, she's unhappy and feels as though life is unfair. While she tries to make positive changes in her life, becoming a news reporter after she's been an ESL instructor, she finds herself entangled through a series of unhappy and unsatisfying relationships. At all times Ceci recalls her childhood and what it was like growing up with a mother that she adored and a father who had been to WWII and who she disliked.Read more ›
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By A Customer on October 30, 2002
Format: Paperback
Whether experiencing the turbulent Vietnam era through adolescent Ceci's hypersensitive and imaginative perspective, reliving the events of "Genesis" in Eve's point of view or exploring and questioning ancient religious beliefs and practice, "The Sweetheart Is In" is at some points clear and entertaining but also has the ability to be heartbreaking and profound. This collection of stories is varied and innovative.
In the first half of the collection, the reader follows the life of Ceci Rueben, a curious, bright, asthmatic girl raised in a "modern" Jewish household. She dreams of attending college and being courted by boys as world events unfold around her. S.L. Wisenberg effectively weaves the significant cultural and political events into the story and draws out Ceci's reaction to them.
The stories are not limited to Ceci's perspective as the reader jumps back and forth in time to view significant moments of Ceci's friends and family. For example, the first story, "Big Ruthie imagines Sex Without Pain", is a depressing account of Ceci's mother and her sexual issues. Issues that she is uncomfortable relaying to her own husband.
The second half of the collection makes a clear break from the experiences of Ceci and those among her and instead discusses with some of religion's oldest stories with a fresh perspective. In the first story of the Part II, "In the Beginning", the reader is told the story of "Genesis" from Eve's point of view, lending humor and new insight to the familiar story.
Throughout all of the stories, the prose is clear, easy to follow and often times lyrical and entertaining.
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