Philip Roth, Jersey Boy

Philip Roth didn’t have to invent a Macondo or a Yoknapatawpha County. From the very start of his career, he situated significant portions of his fiction in a place you can find pretty easily on a map: Essex County, New Jersey.

As someone who spent half her childhood (ages 9-18) growing up in Essex County, I particularly appreciated yesterday’s Paper Cuts post on Roth, a most famous literary “Jersey Boy.” (Did you know that that his first book of stories, Goodbye Columbus, was published 50 years ago this week? Happy Birthday to Roth’s debut book.)

Friday Find: Short Story Month

It’s May! Which means that it’s Short Story Month!

Short Story Month is not quite as institutionalized as, say, National Novel Writing Month or National Poetry Month. But some folks are doing great things for the short story in May. Let me point you to a couple of examples.

Over on Fiction Writers Review, fearless leader Anne Stameshkin invites us to “read or re-read some short stories in May and write to me about one of them that really rocks your writerly world. I’m not talking full-scale reviews (though if what you write becomes something longer, that’s OK)…just a paragraph or even a couple of sentences about why you’d recommend this story to other writers.”

Anne has drawn inspiration from Dan Wickett (I always like to describe him as the indefatigable Dan Wickett). Dan’s planning to read and comment on just under 100 short stories this month. Amazing.

So, happy weekend, happy May, and happy reading!

Between Collaboration and Resistance: French Literary Life Under Nazi Occupation

Yesterday, I had some time between an afternoon day job-related meeting at the CUNY Graduate Center and an evening panel at the same location (not for the day job!), so I decided to mosey on over to the New York Public Library to visit a new exhibition, “Between Collaboration and Resistance: French Literary Life Under Nazi Occupation.”

The subject of French literary life under (and immediately following) Nazi occupation is something I studied as an undergraduate and have remained fascinated by for years. It’s not a simple matter (for one thing, the divisions between “collaboration” and “resistance” aren’t always clear). The exhibition does an excellent job presenting a complicated topic. Lots of books, journals, letters, etc. incorporated in the process. Video/newsreel footage, too.

If you’ll be around 5th Avenue/42nd Street before the end of July (the exhibition runs through July 25), do stop in and take a look. It’s free!

The Wednesday Web Browser: Colson Whitehead Edition

One regret I have about my college years is that I didn’t get to know as many of the writers and future writers in my class as I might have. One of these college classmates is Colson Whitehead (who probably has no idea who I am).

But I was thrilled to hear him speak at a literary event last year, and I’m following the press on his new book with great interest. That novel, Sag Harbor, has gone to the top of my tbr list.

For more on Colson Whitehead and Sag Harbor, please check the following:

–Radhika Jones’s “Dag!”

–Janet Maslin’s “Black Teenage Memories, Under the Hamptons Sun”

–Charles McGrath’s “Coming of Age in Sag Harbor Amid Privilege and Paradox”

–And for those who love YouTube, you can see/hear Colson Whitehead himself talk about Sag Harbor, the place and the book, right here.

Jewish Book World

Over the weekend, I completed my first review for Jewish Book World. I can’t yet share the review with you, but I’ll tell you this much: I reviewed a (very good) forthcoming novel, and the review is scheduled for publication in the fall issue.

If you’re not familiar with Jewish Book World, and you’re interested in books on Jewish themes and subjects, you really owe it to yourself to get to know this quarterly magazine. It’s a publication of the always-impressive Jewish Book Council, and you can find learn much more about it (and read sample reviews) here (click “Jewish Book World”).

And if you subscribe, you’ll get to read my review in due course! (Note to potential reviewers: The magazine welcomes new reviewers, but unfortunately does not pay cash for reviews. I’m considering my [relatively short] review dual community service, for the Jewish and literary communities.)