Midweek Notes from a Practicing Writer

Three quick things.

1. Yom HaShoah—Holocaust Remembrance Day—began Monday evening. At that time, the Sami Rohr Prize website re-published “Mannheim,” one of the poems in my collection Birthright.

The apartment building in Mannheim, Germany, where my grandmother was born and grew up.

By the way, readers of my short-story collection may also recall finding themselves placed in Mannheim in that book. A number of years ago, I wrote a post for Sage Cohen about treating Mannheim in both poetry and prose (the photos that originally accompanied this piece seem have disappeared, but I think the text essentially stands).

2. I give up. Or, to be more precise: As of this week, I have given up. I’ve quit the #TolstoyTogether project and stopped reading War and Peace. I guess I read about one-third of it. It just wasn’t a whole lot of fun for me anymore—too chore-like.

3. On the other hand: I have finished watching the HBO adaptation of Philip Roth’s 2004 novel The Plot Against America. The six-part series was, in my view, outstanding (nothing chore-like for me when it came to keeping up with it). I continue to think about some of the differences between the book and the adaptation, and I continue to be grateful for the official podcast that accompanied the series (which, yes, I have also finished listening to) for delving into some of those variations. I don’t want to venture into spoiler territory, but I’m taking some pride in one of my correct inferences about what was an evident decision to veer from the original in one key moment in the final episode.

a photograph of my grandmother's apartment building in Mannheim, Germany

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