New Glendale short story collection captures the neighborhood’s rhythm of life

Photo courtesy of Craig Schwab

Queens-based author Craig Schwab spends his daily life in Glendale spinning everyday details into works of autobiographical fiction.

The lines have become so blurred between his daily experiences and work, he even signs emails as Jonthan Kiddrane, a recurring character in his literary universe.

“It gives me many of my bipolar tendencies. I can live in both worlds at the same time,” joked Schwab.

At the beginning of October, Schwab expanded his Glendale-based body of fiction even further with a third collection of short stories dedicated to his hometown. After ruminating on his hometown for decades, his new book, “Glendale, NY – TIME,” centers on the theme of time.

 “In this collection, the premise of time plays a role in shaping how we are all similar in the ways we utilize this most precious commodity,” Schwab wrote in the preface. 

His literary inspirations came from “The Time Machine” by H.G. Wells and “Einstein’s Dreams” by Alan Lightman. He began wanting to write about the theme after having conversations with a childhood friend with Alzheimer’s disease. He said that he was struck by how differently his friend experienced time passing.

“I have conversations with him and sometimes it’s so fluent how he remembers things and then the next moment he can’t recall the conversation we were just having,” said Schwab.

The stories take a broader view of time than as something we simply measure on clocks. Schwab wants us to think of time in terms of how it orders our lives. In “Our Crazy Cocoon,” characters try to escape the regimented pace of a bureaucratic work environment. “Borrowed Time” presents a tick-tock narrative of 9/11. 

Schwab said that he thinks the theme and setting go together because growing up in Glendale in the ’60s felt like being trapped in a time capsule.

“When they started doing the construction to make the Jackie Robinson Parkway, suddenly everyone had to detour through Glendale. People who were passing us for 20 to 30 years, suddenly had to ask, ‘Where did this place come from?’” he said.

Central to the idea behind the new collection is a wariness about the role new technology and media play in modern life. When he thinks about how social media and new forms of communication have accelerated the rhythms of life, in true baby boomer fashion, he’s reminded of Bob Dylan’s line that “time is a jet plane.”

“What was he a prophet or what?” he asked.

Schwab has lived in Glendale his entire life. His biographical novel “Something in the Neighborhood of Real” focused on growing up in the ’60s and is chock-full of references Jack Kerouac, Louis Armstrong and the Beatles. 

His new collection is his 21st book and is available on Amazon as a paperback or e-book.

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