Scoundrel Time

I Think I Know You

You couldn’t bring dogs to the Esalen yoga retreat, so Jewels needed a dog sitter. Maybe if she’d been living in Los Angeles for awhile, she’d have had an obvious friend to ask, but she didn’t, as she’d just moved to the city, after two years up and down the West Coast caring for her aging parents. Her transformation from actor to caretaker had begun when she was in Amsterdam, performing in a three-person play. She’d had to abruptly abandon the show—thankfully towards the end of the run–because her father was in an ICU, close to death, thanks to pancreatitis. He survived but his recovery was protracted. He ping-ponged between ICUs, rehabs, and his garden apartment in Portland, Oregon. In those confined quarters, Jewels helped him learn to breathe, walk, and digest all over again.

When Jewels’s father was well enough for independent living, Jewels had an unhappy do-over. This time in San Diego, after her mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. “Even though they were divorced for thirty years, their lives were so parallel that, in the end, the same organ failed,” Jewels says now. But their fates diverged to a degree, as Jewels’s mother died soon after her diagnosis, while her father lived on for another three years.

Once she had settled her mother’s affairs and wrapped up her affairs in Portland, Jewels had a chance to go back to her own life, so she moved to a duplex in the Hollywood Hills, the natural place for an actor. She was 38 and could have jumped straight back into her acting career, which was increasingly focused on voiceovers, but the Esalen retreat for yoga teacher training seemed like an exciting opportunity. First, though, she needed a place for her two chihuahuas.

This all happened in the fall of 2001, back before one searched the Internet for such things. Maybe Jewels used the Yellow Pages or got a recommendation from Esalen. She no longer remembers how she tracked down Robin, a woman who boarded dogs at her home in the Santa Cruz mountains. Jewels called, as one did back then, and made arrangements, really liking Robin, as they discovered a few commonalities over the phone. Though they were both on the West Coast now, they’d lived in New York at around the same time, so they ended up talking about the lower Manhattan scene in the 90s, what things had been like back then. Turns out, they’d frequented the same clubs. Maybe they’d even been at the same place at the same time?

As planned, just before the yoga retreat, Jewels drove to Robin’s home to drop off her dogs. Robin looked to be about five to eight years older than Jewels. The two chatted amiably, while sitting just off Robin’s kitchen. The connection they’d made over the phone, continuing on. “La la la, the hippie sisters getting along,” Jewels says. All very friendly. Then, Jewels wrote a check for the agreed upon amount and handed it over.

Robin looked at the name on the check and said, “Your name’s Julie Cohen?”

“Yes,” Jewels said. “That’s my birth name. Jewels is my nickname.”

Something unreadable flitted across Robin’s features.

“What’s your father’s name?”

“Marvin.”

Robin’s face went white. She immediately pulled back, and Jewels could sense a brick wall coming down.

This was odd.

“Do you know my father?”  Jewels asked.

If Robin did, she’d likely heard him brag about Jewels, who had been acting since she was seven. Her father always had her Playbills or headshots on his work bulletin board. At home, he filled scrapbooks with newspaper clippings about her accomplishments.

“Yes,” Robin emphasized, “I did.” Then she had a question of her own: “Did you know that he was fired from a job?” Robin mentioned the name of a New Jersey direct mail marketing company where Jewels’s father had once worked.

“I do remember that particular firing,” Jewels said. Indeed, after the event, back in 1991, her father had left New York. It’s how he eventually ended up in Oregon in a small garden apartment, instead of the fancy downtown loft he’d once had in Manhattan.

Robin said, “And do you know why?”

Jewels couldn’t remember exactly. She said, “Marvin was kind of a rebel and a wild man, and he got in trouble a lot.” Jewels had begun referring to her parents by their first names once they got sick. She couldn’t keep saying, “My mom” or “My dad,” if she wanted to be sure the doctors and nurses knew who she was referring to.

Reacting to what Jewels said about trouble, Robin said, “He sure did. He got fired because he sexually harassed me.” Apparently, Marvin had wanted to date her, and when she declined, he made her life at work hell. Finally, she filed a formal complaint. The case went to court, and Marvin was fired. That was when he moved to the West Coast. Robin said she also left the company, perhaps after some sort of settlement. Jewels never found out the details—of the harassment, of why she felt it made her life go so off the rails—beyond that.

 

In all honesty, as she sipped tea in the dogsitter’s house and tried to remain composed, Jewels was stunned by the coincidence of meeting this woman, not stunned by the news that her father might have sexually harassed someone. That kind of tracked. Marvin and Jewels’s mother, Phyllis, had divorced when Jewels was seven and her brother Adam was ten. Post-divorce, Julie knew Marvin chased after women, winning them over by convincing them he was more sensitive, more emotionally intelligent than whomever they were seeing at the moment. But he quickly tired of his conquests, often casting the partner du jour in the role of nagging girlfriend. Or that is what Jewels recalls. Her brother, Adam, doesn’t remember seeing his father with anyone post-divorce. Now, with her post-#MeToo era understanding, Jewels thinks her father was likely a predator “under the guise of ‘I love women,’” as she puts it. Not a pussy-grabber, like Trump, or a rapist, but someone who might mentally or emotionally manipulate a woman.

 

What did Jewels owe Robin, as she sat listening to her story? What did she owe her father? Herself? She loved her father, for all his craziness, and over the course of the past year she had seen him at his most vulnerable, clawing his way back to life.

For Jewels, the first of the three questions was the easiest to answer. She apologized. She told Robin that she believed her, that she understood why she was upset, that she was so, so sorry, that Robin was brave to confront her with her father’s misdeeds. Robin could have let it go, not bothered to mention the coincidence, especially given Robin was clearly still in pain about what had happened twenty years earlier.

Jewels felt she had a chance to do something here. It was such a “woo-woo” coincidence. Maybe she could help Robin heal? She felt as if someone from above was saying, “You have a responsibility to do something.” After the apology, what she chose to do was present Robin with the truth—or the truth as she understood it—which was that Marvin was the man Robin thought he was. She was right. He was a manipulator. Jewels was so sorry her father had hurt her, but he was also someone else. He wasn’t entirely a villain; he had good qualities, too. Jewels wanted to acknowledge the woman’s pain and experience without throwing her father under the bus. Not the easiest of tightropes to walk.

In fact, probably not a tightrope she should have tried to walk in front of Robin.

Not surprisingly, Robin wasn’t up for hearing about Marvin’s good qualities. Do we ever hear #MeToo stories that are accompanied by the positive traits of the person who acted in a repellent fashion? At least Robin didn’t cancel the dog sitting job. Jewels was able to continue on to her retreat.

A week later, when Jewels returned for the dogs, Robin did not come to the door. A man, presumably her partner, finished the transaction. He “basically threw the dogs at me and said goodbye,” Jewels remembers. No chat, no comment on the dogs’ behavior, just a please get out of here. “She was very attached to her story that Marvin was the villain, an awful human, and along comes somebody who loved him,” Jewels says. She had thought in giving the woman the respect and dignity of an affirmation and apology that there was “a path to forgiveness or understanding for her through me,” and maybe if she had stopped with the apology that would have been the case. Jewels imagined that if Robin could see Marvin as a round person, as Jewels saw Robin as a round person, maybe she would “soften towards him a little bit in a way that gave her a little more peace, maybe.” Though maybe that would seem far-fetched to others, it makes a kind of sense, given that likely had been Jewels’s own path to loving her flawed father, despite his many issues. Seeing him as whole enabled her to forgive and accept.

Adam, if he had been placed in Jewels’s position, would also have apologized to Robin, but not perhaps gone out of his way, as Jewels had done, to make amends. Adam would have also added, “I’m not him. I’m very different than him,” especially given he had made a point of creating an adult life in which he behaved in the opposite manner of his father.

Still Adam gets why both his sister and Robin acted as they did when they met. He says of Robin not warming to Jewels’s efforts, “Totally understandable. She has no responsibility to try to see her assaulter as a broken whole person. That’s not her responsibility, unless she wants to unburden herself.”

 

#MeToo by proxy stories interest me, because they complicate the narrative—not for the victim, of course, but for others. I have always wondered how people deal with having someone they love misstep in small or large ways, as with a distant acquaintance of mine, a man who was a renowned and impressive journalist, despite being wheelchair bound, which did not stop him from going to war zones. Then, notable missteps in his professional life with both women and underlings so undid him that his wife (understandably) divorced him and no one would hire him, though he once was on the top of his industry. And yet he has several children. He is their father.  What do they do with his sins?  What do his colleagues and friends, who admired him, I assume, until they knew of all this other stuff do?

I don’t know, but I so want to know that I once suggested to an editor at the New York Times that I write an article called “The After-Lives of Disgraced Men,” and he basically said, “There is no way we would touch that.”

Which I get. Not that that stops me from wondering. Jewels’s and Adam’s separate reactions to the dogsitter coincidence has a lot to do with their respective relationships to their father. They both loved him, but Adam had put up stronger boundaries between himself and Marvin. Jewels felt more entangled, in part because of who Marvin was and how Marvin related to her, but also because of what she’d just been through with him, bringing him back from the brink of death.

First, who Marvin was.

Probably a man with an undiagnosed bipolar disorder, the kind of person who used to be described as “a character.” He was a risk taker: expressive, funny, loud, and exuberant. Also friendly and jovial. He had a bit of a gruff exterior, but he struck people who met him as nice, entertaining. Marvin used to open the window of his New York loft each morning and call out to the street, “Okay, start it up, world!’ as if it was his job to get things going. Once Jewels threw a birthday party for Marvin where she got all her theatre friends together at a piano bar to sing show tunes all night. Marvin seemed as happy as a man could be; he was enjoying himself so much.

He was also a fun father, which doesn’t mean he was necessarily a good father. But he was a dutiful one. He always drove out to Queens in his Honda Civic when it was his turn to watch the children, and he planned fun weekends for Adam and Jewels, scouring the New York Times for cultural events, taking them to the latest gallery opening, art film, or hot spot, like South Street Seaport when it was “the thing.”

“We just went here and there,” Jewels remembers. “And anything I wanted to do was brilliant, and he made it happen, fairy godfather-style.”

For instance, Jewels wanted to be in plays.

OK, she could be in plays.

Acting lessons?

No problem.

“My first acting class was on the roof of HB Studio in the West Village doing improvisation. At age seven or eight, I was doing improv. Hmm. Who was putting their kid in an improv class in 1971? Marvin, because he was so ahead of his time.”

Marvin got both Adam and Jewels started with a children’s musical theatre in Manhattan, where Jason Alexander (of Seinfeld fame) also performed, though Alexander then went by the name Jason Greenspan.

Marvin was smart, too. Wily. He didn’t go to college, but both his children said he had a way of starting at the bottom of a direct mail marketing outfit in data entry and eventually working his way up the ladder, even to vice-president. Only to get fired, because he’d do something foolish, and then the whole process would start again. Once he introduced a pregnant colleague at a business meeting by noting, “She’s obviously not a virgin.” That observation—which he had thought funny—got him fired, and rather than feeling embarrassed at the inappropriate joke, Marvin complained about corporate culture: so uptight that they’d make this an issue.

Marvin saw himself as an ethical iconoclast, even though he was patently unethical. He was a liar, a cheat, a con man. But he behaved as he did to “get one over on the man,” to even the field. To his mind, not paying your taxes was OK. Ditto shoplifting. He once came out of Neiman Marcus with a glimmer in his eye, making a young Jewels think he was cool rather than reprehensible for whatever he’d managed to lift from the store.

During high school, Adam lived with Marvin in Manhattan, in part because his own rebel tendencies (smoking pot, getting kicked out of summer camp for drinking beer) were troubling his mother, and in part because, like Jewels, Adam attended Manhattan’s High School of Performing Arts. As an adult, Adam ended up with a career in computers rather than entertainment, eventually working in library technology for the University of California system, his father’s instability pushing him toward choices that would mean more stability in his own life.

One day, in the late 70s, the teenage Adam was eating dinner in his father’s apartment, when a New York City police detective rang the doorbell and took his father away. Marvin had been working as a courier for a construction company at the time. Adam still doesn’t know what his father did to be arrested but guesses his father had taken some checks from his courier bag and cashed them. He couldn’t understand why his father thought he would get away with it. “Make sure you go to school tomorrow,” Marvin said on his way out the door.

Did Adam phone his mother? Didn’t even occur to him. He just finished his dinner.

And somehow Marvin was back home the next day, visits to jails never devolving into sentences to prison for Marvin.

Marvin probably did other things wrong. He didn’t give his real social security number to his employers. To evade taxes?  He hadn’t filed for years and owed a lot. Something else? His kids don’t know, but whatever he’d done was once problematic enough that he left New York for California and changed his name to “Cohn” to evade authorities, though he eventually changed his name back.

 

Jewels’s relationship to Marvin was different than Adam’s, because Marvin wanted to make Jewels over in his image. She wasn’t just with him when he shoplifted. He taught her to shoplift herself. Those cute soaps in the SoHo store? Help yourself. Marvin encouraged everything in Jewels that was nonconforming. When she got in trouble at school, Marvin praised her. And he engaged her in his charades. “We’d be going in to meet somebody for the first time,” Jewels remembers, “and he’d say, ‘Oh, by the way, you go to such and such a private school.’ I’d be like, what? He’d be like ‘Yeah, yeah. You go to this private school on the upper East Side. It’s called blah, blah, blah.’”

Jewels inevitably went along with whatever Marvin dreamed up. “He’d give me little acting jobs like that. He once told people I spoke fluent French. So I went in into this brunch with people, and I said, ‘Bonjour,’ and he looked at me like ‘That’s too much. Don’t push it.’”

 

One of Jewels’s early performances was a play about New York City street kids who take over an empty city lot and turn it into a playground. At one point, Jewels’s character steps up to a cop and says, “Yeah, this is our playground.” It was her only line in the play. She was deeply in character and had a bit of a potty mouth (egged on by her father), so on the day of the actual performance, she stood up to the actor playing the cop and said, in front of an audience of 200, “Yeah, this is our fucking playground.”

“You could hear a pin drop,” Jewels says “The silence in that theater was deafening, except for the gasps. And then in the back, you hear my father laughing. Laughing at the top of his lungs. He thought it was the funniest thing he had ever heard. I stopped the show. After the show, everyone is crowding around me, ‘Why did you do that? Why did you say that on stage?’ and I say, ‘I don’t know. I was just feeling it. It seemed like the right thing.’ And Marvin is going, ‘That’s my girl, that’s my girl.’”

 

Back home in LA after the yoga retreat and encounter with Robin, Jewels was conflicted about whether she should mention what had happened to her father. It was such a weird coincidence. It begged to be examined. But the truth was Jewels didn’t decide to say something as much as spontaneously, in the midst of a phone call, ask her father if he remembered working with a woman named Robin when he lived in New York. Marvin’s reaction was instantaneous and furious, “Yeah, that’s the bitch”—or maybe he said “cunt”?—”who ruined my life.” Robin had either used the same phrase (minus the curse) or given Jewels the same impression, that her life had been ruined by Marvin. Marvin’s version of Robin’s story was that they’d dated briefly, and when they broke up, she accused him of harassment and took him to court to get revenge. He heaped the exact same anger on her that she’d heaped on him. It was true, as he claimed, that he’d really never managed to get and maintain a good job after New York—though there were myriad reasons for that.

Great, Jewels thought, as her father ranted, you haven’t learned anything, Marvin. Not that she said this out loud or challenged his version of the story. He was fragile, and at that point she was picking her battles.

 

If Marvin had lived into the present era, if he had had a chance for a more enlightened education about how men should treat women, would he have responded differently to being reminded of Robin? Or even behaved differently with women in general? Adam thinks so: “He would’ve conformed and been able to control himself with respect to women in the workplace, because nowadays there’s training, there’s policy, there’s awareness that didn’t exist then. And he was not so much of a non-conformist that he would not try to hold a job. He tried to hold a job but what he lacked was a filter. Could he have overcome his own issues to behave properly at work? Yeah. There was no one and nothing to coach him.”

Jewels isn’t so sure: “Marvin didn’t have a chance to learn the new rules. He was still stuck in an old-fashioned white male power position.” Could that particular old dog been taught new tricks? She does not think so.

At the end of his life, Marvin lived in a tiny apartment and owned very little. He might have been erratic, but thought deeply about things. He was heavily burdened by regret. Jewels does not think he was reconciled with himself when he died. He still had his “I did it my way” bravado, but, as she says, “No one could be harder on Marvin than Marvin. If he had, on his own terms, a moral or ethical lapse, he would beat himself up worse than anyone else.”

As for what Jewels now thinks of her interaction with Robin, “I was presented with a tremendous opportunity that few get. To heal this. Even if it was not immediately received, or perhaps will never be received, it was my responsibility to make that effort. I had a responsibility as his female heir, to make that effort with her and also to confront him, so that I could heal.”

Of course, Robin probably received it as an apology with a “but,” which so often reads as a non-apology apology, not that Jewels meant it that way. She was in earnest, but she was also a daughter, not just a woman in the interaction.

 

What does an apology by proxy mean anyway?

 

I have a story, not a coincidence story, but an odd one that is almost the inverse of Jewels’s story, and it starts with a Facebook message I received in 2008. I’m guessing the year. I don’t honestly remember. It was recently after I joined Facebook after purposefully avoiding it, thus this estimate. The message was from a man wanting to know if I was Cynthia Spark’s sister, and if so, could he have her contact information? Back when people called for my sister at the apartment in Cambridge she and I once shared, I’d always feel weird when I’d have to announce, “She’s dead.” She was only 26 when she died.

By 2008, I was living in an old farmhouse two states away from that apartment and was married with a nine-year-old child. I must have written back to the Facebook stranger and said something like “I am sorry to tell you but Cynthia died of breast cancer seventeen years ago.”

The man expressed the requisite shock and grief then asked if he could speak with me. I said sure, and we set up a time for a call. I couldn’t guess how the man might have known Cynthia. It likely wasn’t high school as she’d gone to an all girls’ school. Nor UCLA where she was in business school for arts administration, because her classmates there knew what had happened to her after she’d had to move back east to pursue her medical care. Maybe UPenn, where she’d gone to college, not that she’d much liked the place. She hadn’t stayed in touch with anyone that I knew of.

It turned out to be D, none of the above.

One summer towards the end of high school, Cyndy (the nickname and spelling she preferred to go by) attended the Tanglewood Institute, a Boston University program for music students. She was there as a vocalist. (She later came back for a college summer to work in the office.) During one of the summers, she bummed a cigarette off Leonard Bernstein, less because she smoked (she didn’t that much) than she wanted to say that she bummed a cigarette off Leonard Bernstein. (Side note: I didn’t learn till I was 61 that Leonard Bernstein once sat down on a pool chaise next to my grandmother in Cuba to tell her he was about to get married, and he was nervous. Did Cyndy know? I fantasize she did and shared this with Bernstein while she was extending her hand for a smoke.)

Cyndy’s summer school (which she had to audition for) and subsequent job at Tanglewood might have been what helped her get her post-college job with the New York City Opera. The Opera’s general director, Beverly Sills, and conductor Sergiu Comissiona took a shine to her. Cyndy actually looked a bit like a young Beverly Sills, vibrant red hair, curvy body.

The man who had sent the FB message had been at that high school summer program with Cyndy. He wanted to apologize to Cyndy for something, but since he couldn’t, he wondered if he could apologize to me.

I didn’t see why not.

When he called, he told me what he was feeling ashamed about. When they had all been students at the program, there were a few nights when the students all slept in the common room, and not their individual dorm rooms, for whatever reason. He had slept on a couch and Cyndy was on the floor beside him. He’d let his arm fall over the couch, so he could feel her breasts, but when she woke up and asked what was going on, he said, “Nothing,” as if his hand had just bumped up against her chest while he slept, but then he did it a second or maybe a third time during the night. I am having trouble remembering the details, but she confronted him the next day, asked if something was going on. Was she wondering if he was interested in her? Cyndy had not had any romances with boys at that point, not that she wouldn’t have liked to, as I think all my siblings—relatively unexperienced till later in life—would have. And later, losing a breast at 21 and being treated with chemo, hampered future possibilities. The man (well, he would have been a boy then) acted as if he had no idea what she was talking about, and later a friend of Cyndy’s confronted him, angry that he was doing something to make Cyndy upset.

I tried to reassure him, said maybe she was interested in you—which was honestly what I guessed from how he described Cyndy’s question. But I don’t know that, and now that we’ve been through a #MeToo reckoning, I feel very uncomfortable with how I answered. I don’t feel weird that I forgave him, as I imagine Cyndy would, too. She wasn’t one to hold a grudge, and he was calling to apologize after all this time, so that had to mean something. But I gave him the easy way out by suggesting she might have been interested, and, of course, I had not a clue. Now, that feels really disrespectful to Cyndy. But I don’t know, and I don’t know how we are supposed to understand forgiveness by proxy anyway. What did it matter what I said?

 

I know that my letting him off the hook was also part of something you are not supposed to admit, but I want to admit, because I can’t believe I am the only one who feels it. I can’t say I quite minded getting male sexual attention when I was young, even when it was inappropriate. I tensed when I walked by construction sites in New York, because someone would always catcall, so, yes, I didn’t like that kind of sexual attention, which was more a taunt or a power-play, though when I moved to Iowa City and walked by a construction site (and tensed, assuming the same shouts were forthcoming), no one said a word. My first thought (I used to joke) was “What’s the matter with me?”

And something that still sticks with me: Going into a dining hall at college, and passing a line of young men, sitting at a long table, holding up a number, a rating, for each girl who walked past. I went to Yale! But these men were making it clear what they thought women’s real value in the world was.

But the other boundary-crossing things that happened—a teacher who flirted with me; a married editor who pursued me vigorously after he published some of my work, even semi-stalking me (in part by leaving vegetables from his fabulous garden at my door, in a way that made it clear he knew when I was there and when not); a colleague who “mock-fucked” me from behind during a faculty party in a dorm, as if it was a joke. I startled, of course. And didn’t go along with it, but I wasn’t mad. The idea that I was the object of someone’s joking sexual interest or real sexual interest pleased me. I wanted to be wanted. Not manipulated or put down, of course, but desired. Of course, when I realized (say) that someone who flirted with me, flirted with all the XX chromosomes in the world, my ego took the normal hit. “Oh, Debra, it has nothing to do with who you are.”

Maybe more of the female population is so confident about their desirability that sexual attention doesn’t give them an ego boost, as it did me. And I am not talking about someone feeling me up on the Boston subway (uck), or looking up my skirt while I was eating lunch on the New York Public library steps (also uck). Or the one time (uck, uck, uck, and very scary), I got jumped by a gang of boys in New Haven. But for me, feeling overlooked sexually was a source of pain and when someone seemed to look with anything like admiration, I liked it. Whether they were “supposed” to look or not.

The year Cyndy was dying, my twin sister Laura, Cyndy, and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out if the charming male friend who kept visiting was straight or not. Was he interested in her? Oh, how we all hoped so. We never learned, and then after Cyndy died, he wanted to go for a long walk with me out in the country, which was so unclear (was he interested in me?) and upsetting (he was supposed to like Cyndy). Cyndy hadn’t had a boyfriend. She’d been date-raped in college, though it took some therapy for her to figure out that that was what the encounter that went farther than she wanted was. She hadn’t had what she should have had in the way of loving touch, as far as I knew. Is that why I had thought Cyndy might have been flattered at being touched by that boy at the Tanglewood Institute? But she was in high school then, all the bad experience of her illness was in the future. And I know my question sounds weird now, because if you are touching someone in her sleep, you are touching her without her permission, which is not OK, and obviously you compound that if you play mind games with her, gaslight her when she directly asks and pretend you aren’t touching her. So how could I have thought she’d be flattered? If I could go back and find the man’s name—I’ve tried unsuccessfully—I’d interrogate him some more, maybe I would try to take my words back or at least clarify.

I do remember having a somewhat bitter thought when I hung up with him, maybe an aspect of my dis-ease with my friendliness. I thought, “He’s not really sorry. He’s just working the steps.” Meaning, I bet he just got sober, he’s in AA. He’s doing this for the program, for his own peace of mind. Not for Cyndy.

 

Jewels might not have brought Robin any peace. But she brought me peace. I told her my story about Cyndy after she told me about Robin and her father.

Jewels and I were both born in the early 1960s, and she responded by saying, “It’s funny that we straddle a generation of previous morés and new, new ones. For this man to have come to his conclusion and reach out to you was very brave. And for you as a modern female to say, ‘I appreciate the effort you’re making, and what it’s going to do for you to push the culture and the gender forward. So thank you. And, please, pass the baton to your sons, so that they learn how not to have to make these apologies. But at the same time, no, it isn’t my job to forgive you. That would’ve been her.’”

Oh, how I love that as an answer. How I wish that had been my answer. How I wish I could rewind my days and hire Julie Cohen for a voiceover.

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Debra Spark has published 11 books with the most recent being her novel Discipline and the co-edited anthology Breaking Bread, which was assembled to raise funds for a Maine hunger non-profit. She teaches at Colby College and in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.

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