My Class on Bernard Malamud’s Short Stories

The author Bernard Malamud is best known for two of his novels, The Natural and The Fixer, both of which were made into very successful movies. However Malamud also wrote many short stories, over the course of some forty years, which feature an amazing gamut of colorful and memorable characters, as well as compelling narrative lines. I will be teaching a course on Malamud’s short stories at Oakton Community College’s Emeritus Program beginning May 2nd. The course will consist of four ninety-minute sessions, meeting on consecutive Tuesday mornings from 10:00 to 11:30, concluding on May 23rd. For information on how to register for the course, which is called “Bernard Malamud’s Stories,” please go to http://www.oakton.edu/conted.

The End of The Red Book


This a sad post, discussing the demise of a book, non-literary in content, that was part of my life for the last 43 years. I’m talking about the end of the print edition of Who’s Who in Baseball, popularly referred to as The Red Book. I starting buying The Red Book in 1973, in the age before Google. It contained statistics of active Major League ballplayers, going back to their Minor League and foreign baseball careers as well. It was my constant companion as I watched a baseball game on TV at home, always ready to tell me a pertinent stat on a player. I never threw copies of The Red Book away, stacking them neatly, side-by-side on a shelf in my basement. But now the age of Google is in few swing, and the print edition of The Red Book  has become a relic.

Steven Gan Next Featured Author at Max and Benny’s

What motivated a nice Jewish young man from Northbrook to move to Japan for fifteen years and become a debt collector there? Well Steven Gan has just written his tell all first book, “Making It & Breaking It in Japan” relating his commercial adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun. Some of these adventures were indeed perilous as Gan confronted the Japanese Mafia. He even wound up in the clink in Tokyo. But now Gan is back in Northbrook, safe and sound, and he will tell his story at Max and Benny’s on Monday evening, March 27, starting at 7:00 p.m. Come early to get a good seat and eat before the presentation.

Eric Charles May Discusses “Bedrock Faith” at Cliff Dwellers in March

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The Cliff Dwellers next book club on Saturday morning March 25 features Eric Charles May as he discusses his novel Bedrock Faith. The book, written in 2014, grabs the reader in so many different ways as it is poignant, amusing and tragic, often in the same chapter. But it does grab you, and you remain fixed on the book until its conclusion. Set in a middle-class African American community on Chicago’s Far South Side, the author brilliantly narrates the challenge of a cohesive group of long settled residents dealing with the horrific actions of a mentally unhinged neighbor. The discussion begins at 11 and is free and open to the public. Mr. May will be staying afterwards for lunch, which you do need to make a reservation at reservations@cliff-chicago.org.

Course on James Joyce’s Ulysses at the Glencoe Library

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The Glencoe Public Library is launching its new Big Books series this spring with James Joyce’s Ulysses. I have the distinct honor of being the instructor for the course. There will be nine evening sessions, on Thursdays from 7:00 to 8:30, starting on April 6th. The course is free, and open to all, though Glencoe residents have priority if the class fills up. If you are interested in registering, please call the library at 847-835-5056.

In Memoriam Frank Delaney

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I was very saddened by the passing of Frank Delaney this past Tuesday. Irish born and bred, he had nicely settled in Connecticut for many years. Mr. Delaney was truly a Renaissance Man: an author, broadcaster and producer with interest and knowledge on a myriad of topics. He interviewed 1400 authors for his Bookshelf program that he produced and hosted on BBC Radio Four. I met him once, at a book event at the Irish American Heritage Center in Chicago, and found him to be extremely gracious during the few minutes that we chatted.
Mr. Delaney’s true literary passion was James Joyce’s Ulysses. Since 2010, he produced 368 readings on his podcast Re: Joyce. And he indeed rejoiced on each and every reading. Speaking with his lilting Irish brogue, he savored each line that he read and commented on from Ulysses. Most readings were about five minutes, some a dash longer. They were basically oral mini-essays, read with both gusto and a discerning analytic eye.
It was Mr. Delaney’s intent to cover the entire book, from beginning to end through these mini-essays. From June 16, 2010 through last week, he read up to Chapter 10, page 192 of the Gabler edition. If he continued at that pace, it would have taken another twenty years to complete the book. Still, in less than seven years there were 2,500,000 downloads of Re: Joyce.
I was a frequent listener of Re: Joyce for both when I prepared for the Ulysses classes I taught, or just for the pleasure of listening to one great Irishman reading the words of another great Irishman. Mr. Delaney, you truly will be missed.

Mordecai Anielewicz and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

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As a teenager in 1961, I remember the profound impact reading the novel Mila 18 by Leon Uris had on me. The Holocaust had ended just sixteen years earlier, and as a young Jew born and raised in America, I wondered why six million European Jews seemingly went so docilely to their death. Mila 18, based on the story of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and its heroic leader Mordecai Anielewicz, provided a counter narrative to the myth of the Jews not fighting back against the Nazis.
My friend, the educator Dr. Joyce Witt, has spent much of her professional life studying Jewish resistance during the Holocaust. Joyce was chosen as a United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Teacher Fellow in 1997 and was named to the Museum’s Regional Education Corps in 2005. She is presently teaching a course in Holocaust Studies at the Melton School of Adult Jewish Studies.
Joyce will be giving an interactive presentation, followed by a discussion, on Mordecai Anielewicz and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Sunday morning, March 5, at 10:30 am, at Congregation Emanuel in Chicago, 5959 North Sheridan Road. The event is free and open to the public.