Ronna Wineberg introduced her book, Second Language, published in 2005, when she read from her book to an enthusiastic group at The Chestnut Street Book Store in Winnetka, Illinois. (Read) The book was a “Many Voices Project” winner, MVP 105.
Second Language is a book you will want to own or give as a gift. The thirteen short stories are compelling and tell about relationships that ring true and stir emotions. The book is particularly good to have as a companion when traveling because it can be picked up, a story read, and then set down with a sense of completion.
Reading the stories, it is easy to see why this book was a prizewinner, and so highly regarded. Because my father was a coin collector, I felt particularly drawn to the first story, The Coin Collector, which describes the difficulties Sonia Chernoff had in trying to sell a hamper filled with coins after her husband passed away. The Coin Collector was broadcast on National Public Radio. In Verse of the Han we watch a marriage disintegrate. Characters come from different places, different cultures, ages, and circumstances. What is characteristic of each story is how, though it is a short story, the reader experiences such an in-depth feeling about the characters and their relationship to others in the story. Second Language was re-released in 2012 and published as an eBook by New Rivers Press and retains all the lovely features of the original, the beautiful writing and the engaging look.
Curious about Wineberg's experiences in writing and publishing, I asked:
What inspired you to write and publish the book?
“I had always wanted to be a writer and began to write short stories. I was thrilled when some were published in literary magazines. I decided to see if I could gather the stories into a book. I chose to include stories that complemented one another. Each time I wrote what I thought was a stronger one, I removed a weaker story from the manuscript and replaced it. The collection began to take shape.
My stories are inspired by the world around me, often by a phrase or an image or a piece of conversation. The Doctor was inspired by something I overheard. An elderly man, a doctor, was talking with his wife and reminiscing, and she said, “Like the old days.” I was struck by that phrase. Over time, I imagined a story based on it.
As a challenge to myself, when the manuscript of Second Language felt finished and complete, I decided to see if someone would publish the book. I sent the collection to publishers and agents but no one was interested. However, I received positive comments, and this was encouraging. I decided to submit the collection to a contest. I sent it to the New Rivers Press Many Voices Project Literary Competition and was fortunate that it was chosen as the winner.”
How does it feel to be in the spotlight again?
“It’s wonderful to be in the spotlight again. I’m honored the book has been re-released. The re-release has extended the life of Second Language. A writer never knows how a book will be greeted once it is published, and I’m thrilled that readers are still interested in Second Language.”
How has the re-release impacted your current work?
“The re-release has encouraged me to work seriously on my current projects. I’ve written a new collection of stories. I’ve looked back at Second Language to see what was successful there. I’m searching for a publisher for the new collection. I have also written two novels. One is a coming of age story that takes place in the 1920s in Chicago, and the second is a novel about a public defender in Colorado and the insanity defense. I am revising these, and looking for an agent and publisher for them as well. The process of finding a publisher can be difficult and often feels like an uphill climb, especially in the current publishing climate. The re-release of Second Language has energized me and my work, and taught me to be patient. I’ve learned that a writer never knows what will happen with a book, even years after it has been published.”
New Rivers Press, a not-for-profit literary small press founded in 1968, started the annual Many Voices Project, or MVP, in 1981 as the Minnesota Voices Project in a competition for “new and emerging” writers. More than 100 books have been produced in the series since 1981. Second Language was chosen from 450 manuscripts as the winner of the New Rivers Press Many Voices Project Literary Competition, and it was published in 2005. In the summer of 2011 New Rivers Press decided to begin a new line of production and was excited about the project. They chose Second Language and five other books to release as eBooks and it was published as an eBook on January 19, 2012. Second Language is now available on Nook and Kindle. The eBook format allows readers to purchase books at affordable prices and insures that an award-winning book such as Second Language will have a long life and always be accessible to readers.
Second Language by Ronna Wineberg is available from:
New Rivers Press (2005) $14.95 ISBN:o-89823-224-4
New Rivers Press (2012) $7.69 Amazon Digital Services, Inc.,
New Rivers Press (2012) $8.99 Barnes & Noble eBook/ISBN:
Photos: Courtesy of Ronna Wineberg