Last Friday on this blog, and on My Machberet, I linked to a new piece of mine that had just appeared on The Forward‘s Arty Semite blog. Titled “Remembering Munich, in Fact and Fiction,” the brief essay references ongoing calls for a moment of silence to take place at the impending ceremony that will open the 2012 Olympics, a moment in memory of the 11 Israeli athletes who were murdered at the Munich Summer Games 40 years ago. It also presents some of the “backstory” surrounding “Homecomings,” one of the stories in my short-story collection, Quiet Americans.
What happened in Munich 40 years ago is part of that story. The central characters, Nelly and Josef Freiburg, German Jews who immigrated to the United States in the 1930s, return to Europe for the first time in 1972–and their trip overlaps with the Summer Games. I began writing “Homecomings” when I was an MFA student, and in the “Arty Semite” post I recall some distressing comments that emerged when the story was workshopped.
“Homecomings” isn’t available online, but I’ve recently recorded two brief excerpts (in a single audio file) that you can hear by clicking here. (FYI: “Simone” is a French relative with whom Nelly and Josef are staying. Everything else should be easy enough to follow. And by the way, my recording skills are quite new–you’ll hear more about that sometime soon.)
I’ve been thinking about this sad anniversary all summer, and thinking about the victims and their families. You can be sure that Munich will be on my mind on Friday, when the opening ceremony takes place. I’m immensely grateful to Bob Costas, who has promised that even if the International Olympic Committee refuses to give 60 seconds of silence to the murdered athletes then, he will do so.
May these London Games open, take place, and close in peace.