BRIO winner

Tallerman takes on big topics in short stories


Local fiction writer Bruce Tallerman’s short story “When You Were Jamie” is many things. The tale evokes the anxieties of adolescence, skepticism about religion and a rich tableau of emotions in scenes in Van Cortlandt Park, an unnamed Israeli settlement and the backseat of a black Corvette.

The story about a woman’s transition from a wild youth to a pious adulthood, told from her younger brother’s perspective, won the author his third Bronx Recognizes Its Own (BRIO) award for artistic excellence from the Bronx Council on the Arts earlier this year.

During an interview at his home office on Hudson Manor Terrace, Mr. Tallerman said he often culls experiences from his life for his stories. “When You Were Jamie” is a fictionalized take on his real-life sister’s ardent conversion to Orthodox Judaism.

“There are some very vivid characters from my own life that provide a springboard for my stories,” Mr. Tallerman said. “Some people say that writing is therapy. I think for me, that would be true.”

He added that some recurring themes have emerged in his eight published stories to date. Mr. Tallerman said he finds himself occupied with his father’s alcoholism and the idea of income inequality. In his “Highway Song,” a father-son road trip to boarding schools goes awry, and in “Lost Men,” a successful man has an unexpected reunion with a down-and-out relative.

“I think all writing is autobiographical, even science fiction,” Mr. Tallerman said. “Ideas don’t just come from nowhere. It’s how you transmute those ideas into your own fictional universe.”

Mr. Tallerman, 57, embarked on fiction later in life than many literary scriveners. He said he was working as a television writer in Los Angeles about 20 years ago, when he decided to start writing short stories instead.

“The whole process of writing for TV is, you are one voice in a sea of voices,” he said. “What I loved about [fiction] was, it was all mine. I really loved the process of just getting my own ideas down on paper and crafting them into stories.”

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