A few words about book's author
Susan Fromberg Schaeffer was born in Brooklyn and educated at the University of Chicago, where she received her Ph.D. in 1966. In addition to The Autobiography of Foudini M. Cat, she is the author of ten other novels and five volumes of poetry, one of which, Granite Lady, was nominated for a National Book Award. She lives in New York.
From the Hardcover edition.
Susan Fromberg Schaeffers was known for her poetry and novels, which include Anya, Buffalo Afternoon, and The Madness of a Seduced Woman. Born in Brooklyn, she attended the University of Chicago in the 60s. She returned to New York City in 1967 to teach at Brooklyn College, where she met her husband, Neil Schaeffer. In 2002, the Schaeffers moved back to Chicago, where Susan served as a visiting professor in the English and Creative Writing departments at the University of Chicago. She died in 2011 at the age of 71.
Good To Know
Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Schaeffer: I am a very reclusive person. This is absolutely true. I can spend weeks at a time in the house and I dont mind at all. When Im working, I become the worlds worst correspondent, dont answer letters and barely make phone calls. I begin to think of the world outside as hermetically sealed, unreachable. This is hard on my friends who think I have either died or forgotten about them entirely. When I finish working for the day, I think about this and am swamped by guilt, but Ive never been able to change my ways. My first job was horrible, and it was a good thing it was the only job I could get at the time. I worked in Boston for a publisher in the medical order department. By ten-thirty in the morning, I was finished with the days work, and I had to spend the rest of the day appearing to be busy. After that, I was determined to finish my degrees and never have to have such a job again—although I did have one such job after I finished my Ph.D. My mother insisted I work during the summer before I began working at Brooklyn College, and I ended up at a religious T.V. station where scripts had to be typed scrupulously so that the minister did not find himself reading, ‘And the minister pauses here for an advertisement. The T.V. station was very pleased with me, but I had a headache the entire time I was there. Since then, what headaches Ive had were brought on only by me. I love old things—people, furniture, photographs. Old people know so much. Old artifacts appear to be trying to tell the stories of their lives and often inspire stories, if not novels, of their own. Time in Its Flight began when I found a picture of a child who was in his bed but who had been photographed by a photographer standing outside of the house who took the picture through a window. When I asked why anyone would have photographed a sleeping child while standing outside, the man who owned the picture said that was a ‘mourning picture. The child had died, was probably contagious, and could only safely be photographed from a distance. I was struck by the difference in the nineteenth centurys attitude toward death and my own. ‘There are a lot of pictures of dead children, the owner told me, ‘and a lot of people who collect them. People took hair from someone who died and wove the hair into flowers and wreaths. People collect those, too. I still have the first mourning picture I saw. It grew directly into Time in Its Flight. I collect far too many things because each one always seems as if its about to tell me a story. There must be an incredible cacophony in my house that I no longer notice because by now, Ive grown used to it. I love dolls houses. When I first began writing novels, I would invariably begin work on another dolls house. My third novel, Time in Its Flight, must be one of the longest novels in the world, and during the time I worked on it, I created two dolls houses and populated them with tiny dolls, each wearing Victorian costumes. When I look at the dolls, I still cant believe I had the patience. But there is something about creating a little world as you create a dolls house. The making of a dolls house involves enormous concentration and I would work out how I needed to write a novel while I was constructing it. I hate deadlines. Im always sure Im going to miss them and am convinced that if I miss so much as one deadline, I will never meet another one again. This is because I believe myself to be a basically lazy person. Instead of missing deadlines, I finish everything early and then fume when other people dont tell me what they think of my work at once. Life often seems impossible (I cant be the only person who often thinks this), and at such times, the solution is weather. If it is raining or snowing, I watch the rain or the snow fall. If I am stuck when writing, I get out of the house and go to The Point and watch the waves in Lake Michigan. Sometimes simply standing on the back porch and feeling the cold air sting my skin is enough. Weather is a remarkable thing. It is always there and it is always different.