Monday, June 19, 2017

The Writing Journey

Writing another book this summer has brought me back to that wonderful place-the act of writing, the joy and the pleasure of it. Part of the process of a book sets in motion the skills of selling the book-the readings, the marketing, the reaching out, even the tweets and blogs. This is a lot of hard work, and I have never been one to balk at hard work; however, it is not always pleasurable.

The writing, the discovery, watching the characters come to life, enhancing the characters through the creation-all this and more makes this journey exhilarating. This newest creation is dredging up some challenging and painful memories, since in many ways it is my story; however, this does not diminish the infinite joy I receive when I sit with my writing pad and watch the story unfold. Yes, I am truly a dinosaur, so the writing journey beings with a pen and paper. And then the MAGIC begins!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Father's Day

Father's Day, certainly, is a hallmark holiday, but if you were raised by your father, it is so much more. I am quite certain my father did not anticipate raising a young girl solo, but when my mother left the scene, he had no choice. I think of the film Kramer vs. Kramer where the father had no idea what it meant to raise his child, until his wife was out of the picture, but-what matters in the end-was he stepped up to the plate, and he did it well. 

So it was with my Dad. He valued me as a person and made me feel like I mattered-my intelligence, my dreams; he even made me feel like I was beautiful, when I certainly was just a chubby little girl with glasses. When a parent perceives you as great, you absorb that message, and my Dad was king of positive messages. He taught me how to love and to love well; how to respect other people; what loving kindness means.

He has been gone for so long; he passed away when I was sixteen, and this is sad. He would have loved to have met my children and granddaughter, and he really would have loved to discover that I found a husband-Ira-who is a mensch in much the same way he was. Not everything has been so good in my life; there have been ups and downs. But today, Dad's Day, I honor the terrific dad who raised me and the WONDERFUL husband I married. In this way, I hit the jackpot!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Florence in EcstasyFlorence in Ecstasy by Jessie Chaffee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Welcome to the world of Italian saints and art; of the wonderful galleries and physical beauty of the streets of Florence, of the cafes, the men, the eating, the drinking. Welcome to Hannah, an American woman bound to these saints through her personal struggles of food and drink and men; the demons of anorexia and bulimia and her journey to find the essence of her heart and soul. It is also a writer's struggle-the sense of isolation, deprivation and discovery, and the language that brings us there is so sensual and daring. I am grateful and proud to know Jessie as an MFA graduate of City College, where I work, and based on the sheer eloquence of this book, I would venture to say she has a long and illustrious career ahead of her. I started it and finished it on a plane ride from Europe; how perfect. I could not put it down, not even for a second!

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A Seat at the Table: A Novel of Forbidden ChoicesA Seat at the Table: A Novel of Forbidden Choices by Joshua Halberstam
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A SEAT AT THE TABLE by Joshua Halberstam was a story I had heard before about the Orthodox son who discovers life outside the confines of his community. However, because the author is a journalist, you get a much more expansive view of the Orthodox community and the struggles of the son and the father who has invested so much in his son's religious upbringing. His son has decided to take a journey in the secular world. This in no way diminishes the son's love for family-or for his Orthodox community, but this journey is a complex one, and filled with both love and angst. In a way, isn't this every father/son story, when his son decides to move in his own direction, journey on his his own path?

It is a heart-warming story, and a well-written one, too. It might remind you of THE CHOSEN by Chaim Potok, so think of it as variations on the same theme, and a good one at that!

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Everything, EverythingEverything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING by Nicola Yoon is everything a middle grade novel should be. It is clever, smart, poignant, authentic and uses social media in a wonderfully zany way. Plus, it is such a compelling story-18 year old Madeline's story of an illness that has kept her home in the most unusually sanitary conditions with a nurse and sometimes with a tutor, since her illness requires her not to be exposed to any germs. This seclusion is easy to keep, until the boy next door moves in-tall, lean, wearing all black-as cute as can be. Olly threatens her equilibrium and turns her world upside down, and I would write so much more about this brilliant and beautiful book, if it weren't a spoiler alert; read it; you won't be disappointed. Plus, it will soon be a movie, so read it first!

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The West Wing

I started watching The West Wing, and I am a hundred episodes behind. People who know my passion for politics are so surprised I never saw it, and so Ira and I started. Lately I have felt so unpatriotic, so disinterested in politics, so disappointed in the way the world has turned, but this show has invigorated me. True, it's a show, but it makes me feel what government can be, what government could be when there are smart, idealistic, decent people in the White House, people who believe in decency, humanity, integrity, who understand policy, who want to wheel and deal, but also negotiate for the greater good of humanity. With this goal in mind, I love the president-President Bartlet-because he is what I want in a president-someone well-read, someone poised, smart, diplomatic, to be respected, but also filled with love for his staff, his people, the world. This was written before Obama took office, but from what I heard about his world behind the scenes, he was loved, respected, admired, not like our current president. Yes, this is a show, so it is only a fantasy, but I would like to believe-deep in my heart-that one time in the future a less fictionalized President Bartlet will show up in office, and the humane, smart, decent world can begin again. Until then, I prefer to watch this instead of the news, since I am watching what SHOULD be rather than what is.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

You're Fired!

I just got back from Portugal, where European tourists were eager to talk about our president, citing countless examples of his criminality. My husband and I agreed with them; yes, our president is a criminal and yes, we also can not understand 1. How this happened and 2.Why and how his party continues to stand by him. He is the laughing stock in other parts of the world; frankly, in parts of America, too, though his base continues to defend him. But yesterday's NYT says that, "Democracy is not possible without the rule of the law-the idea that consistent principles, rather than ruler's whim, govern society." But everything is a whim for this man; after he pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord, the very next day he asked if he could renegotiate.

The fact is, clearly he does not understand the way government works, but even worse, he does not follow the rules and norms of government, which makes him both dangerous and scary. A buffoon we can laugh at, as people do, but he is worse:"He rejects the law-the judicial system, Congress, civic institutions and principled members of his administration." He lies. He tweets. He thinks this is a reality show and we want to watch his daily tirades.

 Frankly, I hope people realize this is not a way to govern-I will decide what rules I have to follow, and take the necessary action. It seems like the time has come to say to him, "You are fired!"