Beverly Gologorsky’s novel Stop Here examines the impact of the war in Iraq on blue collar families in Long Island, N.Y., focusing on women, as she did in the case of the Vietnam War in her debut novel, The Things We Do to Make It Home, which was first published in 1999.
The obvious question first: why such a long time between the two novels?
I actually wrote a novel in between that went nowhere. It takes me about five years to write a novel—not something I’m proud of, but it’s just a fact: I write slowly, and deeply, I hope.
Both of your novels have war as an undercurrent in the characters’ lives. Why are you drawn to that topic?
I was very active in the antiwar movement in the 1960s and ’70s, and that put me in close proximity to the soldiers who came home. I also worked in a GI coffeehouse for a while, set up by people like myself, where we tried to talk the soldiers into not going to Vietnam. I was only a kid myself— 19 or 20—and knew that so many kids my age weren’t coming back. And I grew up in a working-class neighborhood, and every other apartment, every other tenement, every other family had someone who went to war, and I saw the destruction—not just of the soldier, but the family, too.
How did you come to write about these specific women?
Women who come from my background are not given voices in much of literature. And I have always felt that when I write, I want to let them talk, I want the world to hear them.
The men in your book respond in different ways to the war: there’s Nick, whose silence about the war speaks volumes; Bruce, who loses his sanity over time; and then Murray, who champions the war, but doesn’t enlist and equivocates about his reasons. Are they based on men you know?
They are figures from my imagination, and composites of various characters I’ve met. But as Flaubert said, “Every character, c’est moi.” I wanted to show how men are affected by war in many different ways. But I think one thing that’s generally true is this: in order to kill, you have to believe that the person you are killing is dangerous. Some of these guys came home from Iraq and were not sure why they did what they did.
What do you hope readers will get out of your book?
My hope is that readers will recognize the emotional rewards of struggle and the deep meaning of friendship between women, which I feel is very profound and has everything to do with survival, and that they will hear the voices of women they may not usually encounter.