Side by Side but Never Face to Face asks, Can new love be found in old age? Greta has been wrenched from a long and tightly-circled marriage to Manfred, an Austrian Holocaust survivor. Together they mourned the accidental death of a daughter and experienced a widening of spiritual horizons as they grieved. Shifting between Chicago, Austria, and rural Wisconsin, the present and decades past, these linked narratives unfold the story of Greta—daughter, wife, mother, widow, survivor, and seeker—with profound insight into the emotional conflicts, spiritual yearnings, and everyday experiences that connect us all.
Maggie Kast is the author of The Crack Between the Worlds: A Dancer’s Memoir of Loss, Faith and Family and a novel, A Free Unsullied Land. She received an MFA in writing from Vermont College and has published fiction in The Sun, Nimrod, Rosebud, Paper Street, and other places. A chapter of her memoir, published in ACM/Another Chicago Magazine, won a Literary Award from the Illinois Arts Council. Kast’s essays have appeared in America, Image, The Writer’s Chronicle, and elsewhere. She is a board member of Links Hall, incubator and presenter of dance and performance art in Chicago
“Maggie Kast has a gift for illuminating her characters’ inner lives, and these beautiful stories, as they shuttle gracefully between past and present, Europe and America, strike a profound and satisfying balance between intimacy and mystery. A wise and powerful book.”
–Garth Greenwell, author of Cleanness and What Belongs to You
“Maggie Kast’s Side by Side but Never Face to Face is a fascinating and unusual collection. Her fiction is what we might call adjacent to fact—convincing and complex stories spun from but not intended to be autobiography. They combine family and marital history, spiritual longing, profound questioning of boundaries between cultures and, finally, via a beautifully evoked passionate encounter, a reassuring bringing-together of body and soul.”
–Rosellen Brown, author of The Lake on Fire and Before and After
“From the joy of ‘Joyful Noise’ to the tense marital ambiguities of ‘Side by Side but Never Face to Face,’ these fictions speak to each other across generations, ethnicities, and religious belief. Maggie Kast has assembled a resilient and vivid group of characters from the Austro-Hungarian Empire to the Hmong of Door County, Wisconsin. Connecting all these is the story of Greta, who, attached to the others by heritage or circumstance or love, seeks to understand herself and the ineffable. A gripping and richly thoughtful collection.”
–Janet Burroway, author of Writing Fiction and Raw Silk