Who by Fire: A novel : November 15, 2012, Outer Banks Publishing Group, distributed in the U.S. by Small Press Distribution. Available on Amazon and book stores.
Who by Fire is told by Robert, Lena’s husband, as he attempts to understand her affair with Isaac, an affair that he has become aware of after her death. He imagines the story of his wife and her lover. Robert the narrator is trying to know himself in the story he is writing as he tells his imagined version of his wife’s betrayal. The story becomes a paradoxical tale of his own undoing that he comes to realize by telling it. In the epigraph to the novel, Robert says, “Life has a way of raveling. Story discovers how it happened. That is the fiction.” This is the reader’s first introduction to Robert’s persona, a man who must control the world he inhabits. The telling of the story as he imagines it, reveals more than he would have wished and as this occurs, his telling moves into real time, for there is no way for him to deal with what he discovers except to report what is actually happening versus what he has imagined.
Robert Olen Butler, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for A Good Scent From a Strange Mountain: Mary L. Tabor's Who by Fire is a lovely, innovative, deeply engaging novel about how it is that human beings make their way through the mysteries of existence.
Lee Martin, author of Break the Skin and The Bright Forever, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize: Mary Tabor’s Who by Fire, is a lyric meditation on love and desire, one that will catch you up in the blaze of its eroticism, its tender evocation of love and the passions and accommodations of a life lived through the flesh and through the imagination. Can memory lead to forgiveness? Who by Fire explores that question in a story I won’t soon forget. The beauty of the prose, the nuances of the characters, the ever-building plot—everything is in place for a novel that will touch you in all the right ways.
Margaret Brown, publisher of Shelf Unbound, recommends Who by Fire as a book club selection. Read the interview with Mary in Shelf Unbound.
• “The Fire,” excerpt from completed novel, Chautauqua Literary Journal, summer 2006, review of The Woman Who Never Cooked also appears in this issue.
• “The Fire,” excerpt from novel, second prize for prose, Tall Grass Writers Guild (Lee Martin, judge) and publication in Falling in Love Again, anthology, Outrider Press, September 2005 (Mary L. Tabor, featured reader at Chicago Book Fair, June 2005).
• “The Fire,” excerpt nominated in January 2005 for Pushcart Prize XXXI by Joan Connor.
• Semi-finalist, 2004 James Jones First Novel Fellowship under former working-title Controlled Burn.
Video interview below and more about the book (Re)Making Love: A Memoir.
The memoir of the good the bad and the foolish: One woman's journey that proves it's never too late to find love—or oneself.
(Re)Making Love: A Memoir is one of those stories you just couldn’t make up. This memoir, the second book by Mary L. Tabor, transports the reader in a most unusual way through a remarkable journey of redemption after a 21-year marriage crashes and burns when her husband “D.” announces, so Greta Garbo, “I need to live alone.” She craters, then embarks on a relentless dash through the hazards of Internet dating, the loving, the illusions, and through it all a hard look at herself—her foibles, whimsy, desolations, indomitable hope when all was hopeless, and ultimate self-discovery. The origin of the writing as a live blog is apparent in a book that is, as Marly Swick has said, “uniquely beautiful and moving in both its form and its content.” This deeply personal memoir is shared wholeheartedly with brutal honesty and incredible intimacy.
Mary L. Tabor reads from (Re)Making Love from Mary Tabor on Vimeo.
The Woman Who Never Cooked:
Connected Short Stories, Mid-List Press
The Woman Who Never Cooked is Mary's collection of linked short stories. The secret of this book is that it is the story of one woman who hides inside the stories and is fully revealed through this tour through her life. Her publisher describes the book this way: Take a dizzying tour of life's betrayals in this tightly linked collection of stories. Rejected by a lover or a husband, having lost a parent, a sibling, some of the characters go a bit mad, make up an imaginary lover, are driven toward sex, toward adultery. All are obsessed with what can be hidden and what cannot because all have been betrayed. And all of them cook as antidote. But what if the woman hidden at the heart of this book discovers one day that she no longer can cook?
• Winner 2004 Mid-List First Series Award for Short Fiction, publication April 2006.
• Grand Prize, Santa Fe Writers Project 2000 Literary Awards, August 2000 (for a smaller group of the short stories); "The Burglar": Read this story online here and in The Woman Who Never Cooked
• The book has also been chosen by the American Library Association and is available in libraries across the country.
Reviews:“To get to know the heroines of Mary L. Tabor’s The Woman Who Never Cooked, you’ll have to head to the kitchen. Navigating family life, they savor foods that celebrate Jewish culture and identity, like the lemon meringue pie whose riddle of a recipe “The Woman Who Never Cooked” solves in her Talmudic musing, or the challah bread whose family recipe she discovers “under S for Sonya,” a fabled pogrom survivor. The women concoct meals to make peace with their pasts: a hidden pie that might spark infidelity, hot peppered fish to entice an alliance between an aunt and her motherless niece. In these still, witty stories, Tabor sets a rich table.”
“It’s the absences that Tabor relies upon—the subject too painful to broach, the person on the bus one sees each day but is afraid to approach—that make these stories stand out. The emotions beleaguering the characters are not secrets, but the ways they cope with the emptiness in their lives are well wrought, unique, and surprising. It’s definitely a challenging recipe for a writer’s debut, one that Mary Tabor accomplishes with the expertise of a more experienced master chef.”
—The Mid-American Review
“There is a subtle humor here, and an innate wisdom about everyday life as women find solace in cooking, work, and chores. Revealed here are the hidden layers of lives that seem predictable but never are. Reading Tabor’s wry tales, one has the sense of entering the private lives of the women you see everyday on your way to work.”
This book has an adult sense of wisdom earned through pain, a combination of compassion and narrowed, cold eye, and a clarity of understanding of sexuality I find unique. I loved reading about these women: grown-ups written well are rare. I found the collection richly made, unafraid, full of woundedness and strength.
Mary Tabor writes with astonishing grace, endless passion, and subtle humor. She moves fearlessly into the troubled hearts of her people to explore the territory of loss and betrayal with unparalleled fervor. She is a magician and an inventor, a master of form whose brilliant sleight of hand leaves the reader joyfully bedazzled. Through the power of her vision and the daring agility of her prose, Mary Tabor dances us to the edge of despair only to spin us tenderly toward the light and the radiant transcendence of love.
—Melanie Rae Thon
Mary Tabor writes the “new” story—witty, edgy, discontent with shopworn wisdom, passionate about the minutiae that reveal the whole of our crooked character, impatient with the easy answer, and fiercely intolerant of the slop and indifference of writers unconcerned with a decidedly moral universe.
—Lee K. Abbott
STORIES AND ESSAYS:
Richard Peabody, editor
Paycock Press, 2007
Interview with Lore Segal, author of Shakespeare’s Kitchen, Her First American, et. al.,The Missouri Review, Vol. XXX, Number 4, 2007
Chautauqua Literary Journal, summer 2004
“In Search of a Sleeve-Board” (essay)
Image, Issue 38, spring 2003; in special section on the artist and the community
Nominated January 2004 for Pushcart Prize XXIX: Best of the Small Presses
River City, Vol. 23 #2, summer 2003
Nominated January 2004 for Pushcart Prize XXIX: Best of the Small Presses
Image, Issue 36, fall 2002
Nominated in January 2003 for Pushcart Prize XXVIII: Best of the Small Presses by Pushcart Prize Contributing Editor Melanie Rae Thon
Mid-American Review, spring 2001, Vol. XXI, Number 2, pp. 42-56, Winner Sherwood Anderson Fiction Prize
Chelsea, Vol. 67 (December 1999), pp. 153-169
Hayden’s Ferry Review, Vol. 25, fall-winter, 1999-2000, Winner Prentice Hall Fiction Contest
American Literary Review, Vol. 10.1, 10th anniversary issue, spring 1999, pp. 59-79
Antietam Review, Vol. XVIII, spring 1998, pp. 63-70, Winner AR’s Literary Award for Short Fiction
To get a copy, write to the editor: Mary Jo Vincent email@example.com
Jewish Currents, Vol. 53, No. 11, December 1999, pp. 12-14
Honorable mention OSU 1998 Haidee Forsyth Burkhart Award in Creative Nonfiction
“Holy Days Begin in the Kitchen”
New York Jewish Week, September 6, 1996, p. 29
“My Mother’s Rugelach”
Washington Jewish Week, September 12, 1996, p. 48
“Emotions a Gift Candelabrum Evokes”
New York Jewish Week, September 18, 1987, "Other Voices" editorial page feature, p. 38