Yesterday’s News: Reflections on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

I am preparing this post on Wednesday night for posting early on Thursday. I have to be honest with you: I’m having a hard time focusing on anything but the terrible events that unfolded today at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

As some of you know, much of my writing–in every genre–has been influenced by my identity as the elder granddaughter of German Jews who fled to the United States in the late 1930s. I visited the USHMM shortly after it opened. At the time, I was especially moved by “Remember the Children: Daniel’s Story,” an exhibit that was designed with children in mind. (The fact that in the exhibit, Daniel’s fictional sister is named “Erika” only added to the emotion of the visit.)

Although my sister’s two children are still too young to understand this part of our family history, someday we will need to explain to them why the great-grandparents for whom they are named left Germany. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I’ve thought of bringing my niece and nephew to see the USHMM exhibit in Washington one day to help with that difficult task.

I am praying for the family of Stephen Tyrone Johns, the brave guard who stopped the shooter–and paid for that bravery with his life.

And I thank you all for indulging me with a post that I’d more typically leave on my “other” blog.

The Wednesday Web Browser: Teaching, Learning, Workshopping

Building on the interest generated last week, The New Yorker is running an online poll for those with MFA degrees. Questions include: What do you think of your MFA in creative writing? Was it worth it? Have you pursued a career in writing (freelance counts)? If so, is it the same genre of writing you got your degree in? Go ahead and answer–the poll is anonymous.
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Erin O’Connor provides an excellent take on Rachel Toor’s latest “Page Proof” column, the subject of which is “writing like a doctor” (think mainly “doctor of philosophy”).
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And then, on the McSweeney’s site, there’s Tanya Rey’s “Comments Written by Actual Students Extracted from Workshopped Manuscripts at a Major University.” (Thanks to the One Story blog for the tip.)

Friday Find: New Review of Forgetting English, by Midge Raymond

Longtime Practicing Writing readers know how much I admire Fiction Writers Review. At long last, I am delighted to announce that this practicing writer is now an official contributor to that terrific online publication!

Please read my review of Midge Raymond’s prizewinning story collection, Forgetting English. (It turns out that Raymond’s book happens to be a June selection from Andrew’s Book Club, too–how nice is that?)

Enjoy, and have a wonderful weekend!

Writing About Writing Programs

I’ve been feeling pretty unwell this week (but my doctor says I do NOT have swine flu, and for that I am grateful). I nearly missed Louis Menand’s review-essay in The New Yorker, which centers on that old question: Should creative writing be taught?. But my ever-thoughtful mother, knowing that I haven’t been reading with my usual clarity, pointed it out to me. (Thanks, Mom!)

And online, there’s more.

I can’t help wishing Menand had said at least something about low-residency programs–I’ll have to see if the new book he writes about in this piece (Mark McGurl’s The Program Era) focuses on them at all.

In any case, it’ll be interesting to see the letters to the editors on this one….