Writer. Reader. Reviewer. Resource Maven.

Sunday Sentence

The Betrayers
In which I participate in David Abrams’s “Sunday Sentence” project, sharing the best sentence I’ve read during the past week, “out of context and without commentary.”

 

“The day’s heat had subsided, and the nighttime air felt gentle, consoling, as if bestowed upon them by a sympathetic spirit.”

 

Source: David Bezmozgis, The Betrayers (which I’m reading in complimentary e-galley version).

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From My Bookshelf: On Bittersweet Place, by Ronna Wineberg

BittersweetCovLast Thursday evening I had the great pleasure of celebrating the publication of On Bittersweet Place, a novel by Ronna Wineberg, at a lovely book party on the West Side of Manhattan.

I’ve known Ronna for years. I interviewed her when her short-story collection was published. She helped shepherd one of my short stories along the route to publication in Bellevue Literary Review. And one of her cousins is a dear friend of one of my cousins—which makes Ronna and me practically family!

So I was honored to be asked to contribute a “blurb” for On Bittersweet Place, which relocates the typical Jewish-American immigration story from New York to Chicago. After reading the galley last spring, here’s what I wrote: “In the pages of Ronna Wineberg’s On Bittersweet Place, one finds echoes of Anzia Yezierska and Betty Smith; in the fictional story of Lena Czernitski’s immigrant family in the first quarter of the 20th century the reader recovers a piece of our larger American history. Quite impressive.”

You’ll surely be hearing more about this lovely novel soon. For starters, you might want to read this new Q&A with Ronna on the wonderful Bloom website. Read through to the end, and you’ll see a link to a book excerpt, too.

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Words of the Week

“‘Israel-themed sermons this year should help people understand what Israel is up against in its confrontation with Hamas — which is not about borders or settlements or who’s at fault for peace talk going nowhere, but about Israel’s very existence, which Hamas seeks to eradicate, and Jews everywhere, whom Hamas aspires to exterminate,’ Rabbi Block told The Jewish Week in an email. ‘Rabbis have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to sermonize about the “other Israel,” the vibrant democracy whose culture of compassion and innovation is contributing so much to the world.’

But underscoring the complexity of the issue, Rabbi Block, in a sermon this spring to his Central Conference colleagues, said: ‘Israel needs many things, but one thing it does not need is more public criticism, which is ubiquitous. Some of it is legitimate, but it lacks context. Much of it is exaggerated, unfair, uninformed or plainly wrong.

‘I am not suggesting that we pretend Israel is perfect, ignore the complex moral challenges it faces, disregard its occasional failures or excesses in the exercise of power or encourage unquestioning approval of whatever its government does,’ the rabbi continued. ‘We have precious few opportunities to address our entire congregation or community on matters of paramount concern. To me, it feels unconsciously self-indulgent to squander them criticizing Israel, even when it may be deserved.'”

–Rabbi Richard Block, quoted in “Gaza War Pushes Israel, Reluctantly, Onto Holiday Bima” (The Jewish Week)

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Friday Finds for Writers

Treasure Chest
Writing-related resources, news, and reflections to enjoy over the weekend. Continue reading ›

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Pre-Shabbat Jewish Literary Links

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen


Every Friday morning My Machberet presents an assortment of Jewish-interest links, primarily of the literary variety.

  • Rebecca Klempner reviews this past (Jewish) year and realizes: “I’ve published more in the last year than in the prior 38 years of my life combined.” And a few other things.
  • I’ve had an e-galley of David Bezmozgis’s new novel on my Kindle for awhile, but I finally started reading it this week. Once again, an Adam Kirsch review is the motivating force.
  • It happened this week: the latest Jewish Book Carnival, hosted by the Jewish Book Council.
  • Is Leonard Cohen your man? If so, you must read Ezra Glinter’s “A Song of Love and Memory for Leonard Cohen at 80.”
  • Coming very soon: Monday will bring big doings for those of us at Fig Tree Books. We’ll be officially launching ourselves and announcing our inaugural list of novels. I hope that you’re already following Fig Tree on Twitter and/or Facebook.
  • Shabbat shalom!

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