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Midweek Notes from a Practicing Writer

This isn’t going to be a typical midweek post. That’s because this week hasn’t been typical.

Upon my return from Rosh Hashanah evening services Sunday night, I discovered news that, frankly, I’ve been dreading for some time.

I began crying immediately. And maybe 30 seconds later, a phone call came from my college roommate, who’d just seen the news via The New York Times.

Stanley Hoffmann authored many books, but, as one professor observed back when I was a young graduate student, "Stanley can write perfectly in an essay what the rest of us need a whole book to do." It was one of his many gifts, and one I admired so very much. These are some of the "Stanley" writings to which I've returned most often since my junior year of college.

Stanley authored many books, but, as one professor commented when I was a beginning graduate student, “Stanley can write perfectly in an essay what the rest of us need a whole book to attempt to do.” It was one of his many gifts, and one I admired so very much. These are some of the “Stanley” writings to which I’ve returned most often since my junior year of college.


If you follow me on Twitter, you may have realized that since then, I’ve expressed little that isn’t about Stanley there–with some exception for Rosh Hashanah worship and our extraordinary rabbi’s latest extraordinary sermon.

Because little else has been on my mind and in my heart.

It has been one of the greatest blessings of my life to have been mentored and befriended by Stanley Hoffmann.

I haven’t yet found the words to express that blessing adequately, and perhaps I’ll never find them. For now, I’m especially grateful to Art Goldhammer for his perfect tribute.

But even if I lack the words, I still have so many of Stanley’s to surround me.

And I know that I am not alone.  

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11 Responses »

  1. Erika, I am sorry for the loss of your mentor and friend. His profound influence on you, without a doubt, made you the brilliant, wise, and generous person you are today. May his words and memory console you.

  2. Hello Erika: I stumbled on your website when researching MFA Creative Writing programs.
    What a loss for one like you, who sat at the feet of such a great man and learned and became great. And what good luck for one like me, a practicing writer who has great concerns over another
    nation, our own, becoming rudderless and fooled by the buffoonery of that rich and dangerous
    man, Donald Trump.

    It is a gift to partake of Stanley Hoffman’s legacy. It was no mistake that I found your website today. Mr Hoffman’s work has begun to inform me as I prepare myself for the 2016 Presidential election and work to derail Donald Trump’s campaign.

    I see in Trump, and in the people who follow him, a new iteration of Adolf Hitler and his minions, ready to descend upon and finish the destruction of our nation George W. Bush started.

    And so. While I am sad for you and the loss of this great man, I am encouraged. We are left in his place to build upon the ideologies in which he believed.

    In my language we say Aoo, da’ nzho. – Yes, it is good.

    Kadari

  3. What a touching tribute. I’m sorry with you. He sounds like an amazing man.

  4. May his memory be for a blessing. It sounds like his legacy is already appreciated and admired.

  5. I’m sorry for your loss, Erika, and glad you had so inspiring a mentor. May his memory be for a blessing.

    I was not as lucky when I was an International Affairs grad student at Columbia where I was mentor-less, and my poetry mentor at the graduate creative writing program at CCNY, Bill Matthews, died five years after I graduated. 18 years since his passing I still miss him.

    Our mentors live on in our memories where they continue to help us revise and rewrite.

    • David, thank you. I love this line: “Our mentors live on in our memories where they continue to help us revise and rewrite.” So true.

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