Book Recommendation: Teaching On Borrowed Time

I just read the memoir Teaching On Borrowed Time by Laurence C. Schwartz, an adjunct at Mercy College in New York City where he teaches speech, and the director of one of my stage plays. It’s a journey of a struggling actor who fell into teaching because it was preferable to waiting tables, and chronicles the precarious existence of life in academia without the security of tenure, a perfect correlation to today’s gig economy lifestyle.

Teaching On Borrowed Time is also an odyssey through New York City that begins in its busy restaurants where Schwartz waited tables and was often fired, typical for the struggling actor where entry level customer service jobs are the only available option for economic survival. The journey also makes its way through the bustling world of off-off-Broadway, first as an actor then director and playwright, an interconnected world where amateur thespians, writers, and directors come together to put on the best work possible in the shadow of the bright lights of Broadway. The narrative then goes to various institutions of education, mainly college level, as the author returns to school to get a master’s then teaches a variety of subjects within the arts, mainly public speaking. 65 percent of college level instructors these days are adjuncts so Schwartz’s employment history is not untypical.

All the subway commuting gives a subterranean feel to the memoir, as well as an education of the varied MTA lines, and adds to the book’s working class tone. It’s also very self contained in the way that New York City stories tend to be.

Schwartz’s prose is straightforward, easy to follow, and one of the eight million stories in the naked city. Click link below to order a copy.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s