Friedman is 45 years old. A retired IBM programmer in Austin, Texas, he lives in an apartment playing the stock market and making collages from pictures cut out of magazines. He is also the main character in Matthew Goldberg’s latest novel. Goldberg teaches creative writing in S&T’s English and technical communication department.
A short story adapted from the novel, “Friedman in the Dark,” was published in the October 2010 issue of The Atlantic. In the story, Friedman works on his relationship with a 22-year-old girl and deals with his mother, who is bipolar and institutionalized. After she escapes from her residential facility, he has to find her and decide what to do with her.
Friedman has no first name in either the novel or the short story. “I didn’t want to think of him that way,” Goldberg says.
Goldberg, who is in his second year of teaching at S&T, worked at IBM in Austin for two years before following his passion to write. He says the novel isn’t autobiographical.
“Friedman isn’t based on any one person, but it could be anyone,” he says. “They seem to share a sense of claustrophobia and find it tough to open up to the world.”
Goldberg holds a bachelor of science degree in electrical and biomedical engineering from Duke University and a master of fine arts in creative writing from the University of Arkansas. He feels his background in engineering makes him a good fit to teach composition to S&T undergraduates.
“I can talk about the importance of writing to engineering students,” Goldberg says. “In every job I had before I started teaching, writing was important — evaluations, presentations. When you’re writing your own performance evaluation, it helps to have good writing skills.”
Goldberg is currently working on his second novel and shopping for a publisher for the first. He tries to write three hours a day.
“I get caught up in it,” he says. “Some days it happens, other days it doesn’t.” But having the discipline to try helps his creativity. “At least it’s an address where inspiration can find me.”