My Nephew Inspires New Thoughts About My Own Youthful Reading
Earlier this summer, my young nephew told me he had a movie (on his iPad) that he wanted me to see.
“You’ll like it,” he said. “It has aunts.” (It took me a moment to understand that he was not touting the presence of “ants.”)
As I settled next to him on the sofa, I discovered that the movie in question was “James and the Giant Peach.” I had never seen the movie, nor had I read the original book, by Roald Dahl, on which the film is based. (Just a few minutes into our viewing, I was compelled to check with my nephew: “You’re not suggesting that I’m like THOSE aunts, are you?” ;-))
So when this precious child celebrated his birthday last week, I presented him with not just the video game he requested, but also a copy of Dahl’s book. (I refrained from sharing, just yet, my discomfort with Dahl’s anti-Semitism.) And as I thought about the books that my nephew most enjoys reading (or having me read to him), I had an epiphany of sorts: Continue reading ›
(Still experimenting with a new title/format for these midweek posts. Thanks for bearing with me!)
‘TIS THE SEASON
Well, not exactly. But my extended family has found, these past several years, that it’s often easier for all of us to gather for a holiday on less-than-exact dates that are at least in the general vicinity of the holiday in question.
Thus, last weekend found us pre-celebrating Hanukkah. Below, one of the gifts Auntie Erika bestowed: B.J. Novak’s The Book With No Pictures (the picture doesn’t capture the excitement/joy that the gift evoked as soon as it was unwrapped; this was one of my more inspired/successful choices!).
This week brought the conclusion of the terrific workshop I’ve been part of this fall. It also brought an effort–now stalled, I admit–to work on a new essay. And it brought a poetry acceptance (more about that soon, I trust!).
I knew the workshop was coming to an end. I suspected that the essay might not “work.” And I hoped the poem might find its home.
But I did not, in any way, anticipate this lovely note which arrived via email yesterday, about one of the short stories in Quiet Americans: Continue reading ›
Grandma & Me at My Sister’s College Graduation, 1994
So long as the anticipated snowstorm doesn’t shut down the city, before I head to the day job today, I’m stopping off at the German consulate, where I’m renewing my German passport. When I went online to book my appointment back in November–you need to make one, you can’t handle this by mail–I thought it was really something that the first available appointment was January 22: my German grandmother’s birthday.
As many of you already know, my grandmother–who would be 99 today–was a huge influence on the stories in my collection, Quiet Americans. Which celebrated the third anniversary of its publication a few days ago, too.
And as for my passport, it was the focus of one of my first published essays. The scan quality isn’t great, but I’ve uploaded a copy of “Passport from the Past,” which was published in the Boston Sunday Globe in 1997.
[UPDATE: The city schools (and my office) are open–but transit is dicey and non-essential travels around the city aren’t in the cards this morning. I’m going straight to work and rescheduling the consular appointment. I think that Grandma would approve!]
The shattered stained glass windows of the Zerrennerstrasse synagogue after its destruction on Kristallnacht. Pforzheim, Germany, ca. November 10, 1938. (USHMM/Stadtarchiv Pforzheim)
If you follow my other blog (My Machberet
), you may have noticed a weekend post
about the 75th anniversary of the pogrom known as “Kristallnacht” and ways in which the event has shown up in my own writing, particularly in some of the stories in my collection Quiet Americans
But I’m far from the only one to have written about Kristallnacht in some way. This week also brought plenty of reminders of that fact.
After seeing my post, Lawrence Schimel pointed me to this piece of his. Via Twitter, he added that it is part of a larger project–“IN THE SCHWARZWALD: poems using Grimm fairy tales as the lens through which to examine the Holocaust.”
Also notable: Janet Kirchheimer’s op-ed, published last week, about Holocaust remembrance through poetry. (I met Janet and became familiar with her work when we appeared on a panel together in 2011.)
Finally, this week brought me the good fortune of meeting up here in New York with Jonathan Kirsch, whose latest book (The Short, Strange Life of Herschel Grynszpan: A Boy Avenger, a Nazi Diplomat, and a Murder in Paris), is intimately connected with the history of Kristallnacht.
How about you? Are there any literary works you’d recommend that address Kristallnacht?