Archive | October, 2013

WIPs Conversation: Rita Ciresi on Her Work in Progress

Rita CiresiRita Ciresi is the author of four novels (Bring Back My Body to Me, Pink Slip, Blue Italian, and Remind Me Again Why I Married You) and two award-winning story collections (Sometimes I Dream in Italian and Mother Rocket). She is professor of English and director of the creative writing program at the University of South Florida. She has received support from the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Virginia Commission on the Arts, the Florida Department of State, and the National Writer’s Voice. Her residencies include visiting writer at the American Academy in Rome, a fellowship to the Hawthornden International Writers’ Retreat, and stints at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Atlantic Center for the Arts, and the Santa Fe Art Institute. She has written the first and final drafts of most of her work at the Ragdale Foundation, an artists’ colony located in Lake Forest, Illinois. Visit her website at

Rita, in “The Art of the Hand,” chapter one from The Doctor’s Wife, Lydia and Mark make an unlikely pairing. Yet, before a large, curious, and admiring audience of med students, the seeds are planted of what (as the novel’s title indicates) will become a long and lasting relationship. What span of these characters’ lives are explored over the course of the novel?

The Doctor’s Wife explores the impulsive nature of love. Mark and Lydia meet in August and the novel ends as they drive home from a Christmas party. I chose to tell the story in present tense so I can give the reader a better feel of being caught up in a whirlwind romance. But as I approach the finish line, I’m finding myself reluctant to let these characters go–so a sequel may be in the works.

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Rita Ciresi: an Excerpt from The Doctor’s Wife

Chapter One: The Art of the Hand

The minute I enter the hospital I know I’m lost. There’s an East Tower and a West Tower. A North Pavilion and a South Pavilion. This atrium, that atrium. I don’t dare stop one of the harried men and women rushing by in sneakers and scrubs to ask for directions. And I would sooner die than ask anyone wearing a white coat where I’m going.

I make it a point to avoid doctors. But last week I got a phone call from a secretary at Yale: “We’d like you to come talk to our first-year medical students about how visual artists observe the human body. . . or something like that.”

Or something like that sounded dubious. But since it paid five hundred dollars, my answer was not yes, but yes!

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