Sometimes I marvel over the literary connections that the Internet has brought into my life–and the many pages of beautiful, important writing to which they’ve led me. Case in point: I have yet to meet Faye Rapoport DesPres face-to-face. But I feel as though I know her, in part through our social-media exchanges, and in part through her memoiristic writing.
Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of Faye’s memoir-in-essays, Message from a Blue Jay: Love, Loss, and One Writer’s Journey Home (Buddhapuss Ink). The book, available this month, includes one essay that I wanted to spotlight for My Machberet‘s readers. I’m delighted that Faye agreed to answer my questions (especially since she also took the time to participate in another interview about the broader collection; that Q&A will appear in the next issue of The Practicing Writer).
Faye Rapoport DesPres was born in New York City, and over the years she has lived in upstate New York, Colorado, England, Israel, and Massachusetts. Early in her career, Faye worked as a writer for environmental organizations that focused on protecting wildlife and natural resources. In 1999, after switching to journalism, she won a Colorado Press Association award as a staff writer for a Denver weekly newspaper, where she wrote news stories, features, and interviews. Faye’s freelance work has since appeared in The New York Times, Animal Life, Trail and Timberline, and a number of other publications.
In 2010, Faye earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Pine Manor College’s Solstice Low-Residency MFA Program, where she studied creative nonfiction. Her personal essays, fiction, book reviews, and interviews have appeared in a variety of literary journals and magazines, including Ascent, Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, Eleven Eleven, Fourth Genre, Hamilton Stone Review, Necessary Fiction, Platte Valley Review, Prime Number Magazine, Superstition Review, and The Writer’s Chronicle. Continue reading ›
Every Friday morning My Machberet presents an assortment of Jewish-interest links, primarily of the literary variety.
“I’m an American, I’m a Jew, and I write for all men. A novelist has to, or he’s built himself a cage. I write about Jews, when I write about Jews, because they set my imagination going. I know something about their history, the quality of their experience and belief, and of their literature, though not as much as I would like. Like many writers I’m influenced especially by the Bible, both Testaments. I respond in particular to the East European immigrants of my father’s and mother’s generation; many of them were Jews of the Pale as described by the classic Yiddish writers. And of course I’ve been deeply moved by the Jews of the concentration camps, and the refugees wandering from nowhere to nowhere. I’m concerned about Israel. Nevertheless, Jews like rabbis Kahane and Korff set my teeth on edge. Sometimes I make characters Jewish because I think I will understand them better as people, not because I am out to prove anything. That’s a qualification. Still another is that I know that, as a writer, I’ve been influenced by Hawthorne, James, Mark Twain, Hemingway, more than I have been by Sholem Aleichem and I. L. Peretz, whom I read with pleasure. Of course I admire and have been moved by other writers, Dostoyevsky and Chekhov, for instance, but the point I’m making is that I was born in America and respond, in American life, to more than Jewish experience. I wrote for those who read.”
Source: Bernard Malamud’s 1974 “Art of Fiction” interview in The Paris Review. (Thanks to Kyle Minor for bringing this to my attention on Twitter this past weekend, which marked the 100th anniversary of Malamud’s birth.)