Ruth Steiner, an author so renowned that she gets called on to testify in front of congressional committees that discuss funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, is yelling from the window of her Greenwich Village apartment to someone on the sidewalk below. We know from her muttering and fumbling at the sash that she's eccentric and cantankerous, and proud of it. Into her cluttered and intensely personal space irrupts a student from her class at Columbia, Lisa Morrison, who's come for a tutorial. The girl is all over the place: worshipful, puppylike and deferential yet oddly invasive. Seated on the couch, Ruth goes over Lisa's short story, "Eating Between Meals," with her. She offers a judicious mix of criticism and praise, introduces her to mandelbrot -- which she humorously terms Jewish biscotti -- and grudgingly concedes that the young woman just... More >>>
Patty Mintz Figel (left) and Heather Nicolson in Collected Stories.