Mining Moment Magazine

The November-December issue Moment magazine (“The Book Issue”) arrived last week, and it contains some terrific content. Here’s a quick guide to some highlights:

1) A profile of comedian Jon Stewart (born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz)

2) Reading recommendations (classic and contemporary Jewish books) from nine Nobel laureates. Plus: more suggestions from rabbis.

3) The top three stories submitted to the most recent Moment-Karma Short Fiction Award competition.

4) A poem by Myra Sklarew

5) And an online bonus: a book club guide to Philip Roth’s Goodbye Columbus and Other Stories.

Tom Kealey’s Creative Writing MFA Handbook (2008 edition)

This is pretty exciting. A revised and updated edition of Tom Kealey’s Creative Writing MFA Handbook is now available. And get this: It includes a contribution from me.

That’s right. The new version incorporates an essay penned by yours truly on “Choosing a Low-Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing” (see pp. 37-45) as part of a chapter on “What to Look for in a Creative Writing Program.”

And this edition features a lot of other new content. Check it out!

(And a public thank-you to Tom for asking me to pitch in.)

From My Bookshelf: The Day My Mother Changed Her Name and Other Stories, by William D. Kaufman

Recently I had the great pleasure of reading a new release from Syracuse University Press’s “Library of Modern Jewish Literature” series: The Day My Mother Changed Her Name and Other Stories, by William D. Kaufman. As a bonus, one of the book’s two forewords is by Max Apple, whose work I’ve also discussed on this blog.

The second foreword to this unusual collection comes from Carol Montparker, to whom the book owes much. It was Montparker’s discovery of Kaufman and his stories–Kaufman attracted her attention when reading from his work to audiences at the assisted living residence where both he and Montparker’s mother were residing–that led to this publication. “I got it into my head that I must find a publisher for Bill Kaufman,” Montparker writes. And after making copies of Kaufman’s stories, researching publishers, and contacting editors on Kaufman’s behalf, Montparker struck gold with Syracuse. And in his tenth decade of life, William Kaufman published his first story collection.

Montparker believes that Kaufman’s writing is “not unlike I.B. Singer’s in its folkloric aspects, with a dash of S.J. Perelman’s ironic humor thrown in but even more charming and witty and altogether engaging.” I probably shouldn’t admit that I’ve read relatively little Singer or Perelman, but if they’re anything like Kaufman, I’ll have to remedy that soon!

Because these stories–most very brief and seemingly rooted in the author’s early twentieth-century childhood (the jacket also characterizes them as “semi-autobiographical works” and informs us that Kaufman is “the son of Jewish immigrants from Lithuania and the Ukraine”)–are simply a pleasure to read. If you’re yearning to immerse yourself for a little while in a Yiddish-inflected America, to a world of observant Jews who send their children to cheder in the American Northeast, then you’ll find your place in these stories. And there’s a bonus: a glossary to help those of us who may have become too assimilated here in the United States to recognize every Hebrew or Yiddish word.

Most serious reviewers try to avoid words like “heartwarming,” but I can’t deny that these stories warmed my heart. They may well do the same for yours.

Review of Margot Singer’s Story Collection on Kenyon Review Online

Folks, I’ve been waiting quite awhile to be able to post this one.

Last spring, I read Margot Singer’s extraordinary short story collection, The Pale of Settlement, and I’ve been eager to share my full review with you, hopefully encouraging more readers to discover the book. Since I’d sold the piece to the Kenyon Review Online, however, I’ve had to wait for the editors over there to post it. That’s now been taken care of, so please go over to KRO and read the review now! Thank you!

The Wednesday Web Browser: Extraordinary Essay, New Novel, and Festival Blog

The latest NewPages litmag reviews alerted me to an essay in Colorado Review by an MFA classmate of mine. Download Margaret MacInnis’s extraordinarily moving “Being Margaret” here.
Last week I finished reading a terrific new novel, Irina Reyn’s What Happened to Anna K.?. Read my brief comments on my other blog.
Didn’t make it to this year’s New Yorker Festival? Neither did I. But the Festival blog provides a decent sense of what we missed.

P.S. I won’t be blogging tomorrow, as I’ll be observing Yom Kippur. See you back here on Friday.