My friend Debbie Sue Goodman, a comedienne extraordinaire, and myself are paired together at an event next Tuesday, April 29, at the Indian Trails Public Library in Wheeling. The event is billed as “stories to make you laugh.” It starts at 2:00 p.m. and should run about an hour. The library is located at 355 Schoenbeck Road.
I am culling through my writings to find stories with elements of humor for the reading. I will probably read “Bubbie Gussie” and “Frank” from my book “Chicago Sketches” and a funny excerpt from a new piece of fiction entitled “Pinky Schnookler.”
Correspondence between literary figures has always fascinated me. I so enjoyed the forty-five years of letter writing between Henry Miller and Lawrence Durrell which took place from 1935-1980. The younger of the two, Durrell, clearly came across as the far more serious thinker in this four decades plus exchange of missives.
The recently published book, Here and Now: Letters (2008-2011), a compilation of three years of correspondence between the writers Paul Auster and J. M. Coetzee, is genuinely an exchange of thoughts from two intellectual equals. These two authors, Coetzee, the South African émigré who settled in Australia, and Auster, a true blue New Yorker, have developed an incredibly close personal bond over the years, evolving from a collegial relationship to a solid friendship between them and their wives as well.
All is fair game in the correspondence. There is a light tone and amusing banter as they both recall how many hours of time they wasted on passively watching sports on TV, while they should have been engaged in their writing craft. This is countered with fatalistic pessimism as they muse upon the impasse of peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Auster and Coetzee are modern day Renaissance Men, informed and engaged, observing and commenting on the great parade of life that they are witnessing. Here and Now is a book that you will enjoy immensely.
Roberta Dietzen, a North Shore author, will be the next featured speaker at the Chicago Jewish Authors Literary Series. She will present at Max and Benny’s Restaurant on Monday evening, May 5, starting at 7:00 pm. Come early and have dinner before the event. Ms. Dietzen’s new book, “Gypsy Music Street,” is a memoir; a family history about love, loss and the endless ramifications of the Holocaust through the generations that followed. The story delves into what it means to be a child of immigrants, a caregiver for an aged parent, and the occasionally exasperating mother/daughter relationship that will resonate with many readers. After her mother’s death, the author embraced her mother’s dream of seeing the town of her birth and youth just one more time. She made an extraordinary journey to Hungary and Ukraine to explore her family history. “Gypsy Music Street” is available in print or as an ebook on Amazon. If you plan to attend, contact me, the event coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Cliff Dwellers has been hosting thought provoking literary events since the club’s inception in 1907. Such literary giants as William Butler Yeats and Vachel Lindsay graced its rooms in the early years. Cognizant of this great tradition, we were somewhat wary launching the new Cliff Dwellers book club this past January. Yet after three stimulating and informative sessions, the book club has been a smashing success. We are indeed fortunate in having the authors participate in the next two scheduled sessions. On Saturday, April 26, Christine Sneed will discuss her novel “Little Known Facts,” while William Hazelgrove’s novel “The Pitcher” is up for discussion on Saturday, May 31. The book club sessions start at 11:00 am and end about 12:30 pm. Often discussions continue over lunch at the club. If you plan on attending as well as staying for lunch, please make a reservation at email@example.com. The club is located at 200 South Michigan, directly across the street from the Art Institute.
In Leo Rosten’s classic lexicon of Yiddish words, The Joys of Yiddish, one of the definitions of haimish is “informal, cozy, warm.” And I think that best describes the atmosphere in the room last evening at Max and Benny’s Restaurant and Deli where author Scott Turow spoke at the Chicago Jewish Authors Literary Series.
Nearly everyone among the 250 people in the audience was Jewish. When asked by a reporter how he felt speaking in front of such a preponderantly Jewish crowd, Turow answered “I’m grateful to them for being proud of me.”
Turow was truly in his comfort zone, speaking to the audience not only about his books and legal career, but also about growing up Jewish in his preteen years in the very Jewish neighborhood of West Rogers Park in the 50s and early 60s, attending Rogers elementary school, playing at Indian Boundary Park and eating at local delis.
Those of us who listened to him last night truly felt that pride of one of our own who has done well in life and who has made his mark on society.