Sunday, December 29, 2013

Joseph Anton Opens the Universe

Salman Rushdie’s memoir, Joseph Anton, is an operatic 650 pages, an embrace of continents and countries, India, Europe, America; a roll in the dirt and shine of humanity, literature, art, love, children, freedom, courage and vulnerability, ugliness and beauty.  

It took me two months to wander across these pages. I paused often to consider and reconsider the sentences,words, people, sensibility and many-sided truths revealed therein. I underlined and bracketed and dotted margins with asterisks. There  is so much in this story to cherish, question and love. 

“Literature tried to open the universe, to increase, even if only slightly, the sum total of what it was possible for human beings to perceive, understand, and so, finally, to be. Great literature went to the edges of the known and pushed against the boundaries of language, form, and possibility, to make the world feel larger, wider, than before.” (from Joseph Anton)

Thank you, Mr. Rushdie, for taking me into your world, for opening up your universe so that I might see differently.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

SHAPE magazine picks Women In Bed

Another surprise: Women In Bed is one of ten new books recommended to "add to your winter reading list" by Shape magazine.  Click link below.  This picture was taken in Southern California, where I am staying for a short while.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanks to Beth Kephart, Books On the Night Stand,

It's a special privilege when a writer whose work I admire reads my books and raves about them. Such was the case when author extraordinaire, Beth Kephart, recently read my story collection, Women In Bed. Beth is the author of seventeen books. She's up for several awards this year, and has been a National Book Award finalist in the past. Her newest novel--Small Damages--slayed me with its gorgeous language and story set in southern Spain. Next for me is her book, Handling The Truth, which is about writing memoirs as well as the relevance and beauty of memoirs and what they offer us as readers. Here's what Beth said about Women In Bed.

More thanks are due to the wonderful Books on the Nightstand and Ann Kingman's expressed love for the stories in Women In Bed.  (She "devoured them.") She invited me to write a guest essay, so I wrote about fairy tales because they sparked my passion for short stories. You can read what  Ann says (and my essay) here.

Finally, special thanks to editors for naming Women In Bed one of 12 must-reads this fall. I was in good company. (Others chosen include Jhumpa Lahiri, Elizabeth Gilbert.) Here's the link:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Salman Rushdie, Boston Book Fest, Cranberry Bogs

Quite a week.

First up: Salman Rushdie talking to 800 or so people who filled the lower and upper pews in Boston's Old South Church. He was introduced by Homi Bhabha and a discussion between the two old friends followed. Salman said a few things that stuck with me. Paraphrasing, he said: books have no boundaries. That truth exploded inside me. It's still exploding inside me. He also cautioned against buying into a "security" point of view (my quotes for emphasis). This is basically a view that anticipates any and all disasters and catastrophes at all times. He said if you buy into that viewpoint you will give up your language of freedom. Again, this sung the truth to me. Basically, a security point of view is one of fear. If we live in fear, we imprison ourselves. Naturally, we have to be cautious and wise, but excessive fear leads to all kinds of shut downs: spiritual and emotional, physical, social. Finally, he read  a gorgeous passage from his memoir, Joseph Anton, and finished by answering a few audience questions.
Salman Rushdie

Next up: all day Saturday in Copley Square celebrating books, readers, the power of story. Lots of book vendors, publishers, writer organizations, food, music & 200 authors, including too many author buddies to name here. Boston is a literary gold mine.I wonder if we have the highest author per square block concentration in the country? Someone needs to do a survey.

Day Crowds
John Hancock building, sky and clouds mingling

Weather was perfecto

Late afternoon, closing time
I shared a panel with novelists Amity Gaige and Miriam Karmel, moderated by Ann Kingman (far r) of Books On the Nightstand.

This describes our panel

Our panel took place inside the Boston Public Library, a truly gorgeous architectural creation.

Copley Sq. entrance to Library
Library's inner courtyard. 

My week wrapped up with a day visit to Cape Cod and the Dennis Memorial Library where I read from Women In Bed and talked with a wonderful group of local folks. Special thanks to my host, Jane McGinnis, Gordon McGinnis, and also Titcomb Bookshop (Sandwich, MA).

Cape Cod Bay at high tide

Cranberry au natural. Cranberries grow low to the ground.

Here, with my lovely host: Jane McGinnis

We talked about the difference between short stories & novels, the writing process, publishing, and more.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Newtonville Books, reading Oct. 9, 2013

Reading at Newtonville Books is a special thrill and one I had the pleasure of sharing with novelist Amy Grace Loyd who may be one of the most energetic, upbeat writers I’ve met in a while. She has a head-turning resume, too, that includes former literary editor at Playboy magazine and current executive editor for Byliner. 

This bookstore is beautifully designed with warm woods and a delightful front desk made of real, stacked books (see pic below). The store recently celebrated its fifteen-year anniversary.

Our books: Women In Bed, Night Swim & The Affairs of Others
See the desk made of books (left corner)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Women In Bed, release party, Oct. 1 Brookline Booksmith

Thanks to all who came out to celebrate my new story collection.

Thanks to everyone who came out on a week night!

reading from the opening story "Secrets"

Yakking with my sister

Finally met my publisher, Lou Aronica, head honcho at The Story Plant
Lovely bouquet sent from my mom and sister who live in California

Friday, September 20, 2013

Night Swim, new edition

I put this copy of my book in my father's plant that he gave my husband and I for a house warming more than 15 years ago. The plant didn't bloom for years but when my dad died in 2010, a month later it started blooming. You can see why this plant feels special to me. I wrote about that here. 

The new edition of Night Swim recently found its way to the top ten spot on B&N's Nook bestseller list.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Thich Nhat Hanh in Boston, September 15, 2013

Friday, September 13, 2013

Yom Kippur, a child's thoughts

Yom Kippur begins this evening and it brings back memories when I used to fast as a child. I began fasting when I was about seven and stopped the year I turned seventeen and went off to college.

As a child, fasting heightened my awareness of everything—time, smells, sights, sounds, thoughts. By the end of the day, without the usual prompts of meals and snacks to mark my routine, the day took on a quality of air where space and time became one, my feet barely on the ground where I stood. I spent those days fasting with other Jewish kids on the quiet streets and sidewalks of my suburban neighborhood. As usual, we rode bikes, played hide and seek, rode bikes again, or found things to do with stones, dirt and sticks.

Plus this: on this day of Yom Kippur, we picked our super special--sacred--apples from our neighbor's small orchard. Those gnarly trees, weighted with fruit, lowered their limbs for our easy reach. Each of us—maybe we were half a dozen kids—walked among the leafy trees in search of our own, flawless apple, unbruised, red and shiny.

Once I made my selection, I kept my apple close, in my hands, for the rest of the day until that precise minute on the clock when I returned to earth, could break the apple skin with my front teeth--and eat!

The apple represented my reward. But it also represented life, beauty, survival, temptation, and the power of nature and G-d, a power that created this aromatic and sweet tasting fruit. My apple overflowed with its roundness, its redness, its greenness, its "is-ness" and became my companion, my cheerleader urging me stay the course, to last the whole long day of fasting. Nestled in the curve of my fingers,I felt my apple's solid nature, its promise of future nourishment. "I’m not going anywhere," it said. "Treat me right, don't drop me. Polish me, honor me, and I’ll be here for you when your fasting is done." 

And it was. Every time.

It’s been years since I've fasted on this holiday, but my body remembers with fondness and gratitude the help I received from my neighbor's red apples. 

For all those fasting on Yom Kippur this year, I wish you a good one that allows you to focus on the day’s meaning of atonement and forgiveness and to find some cleansing in the process.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Monday, July 8, 2013

Independence Day Week: leaves, bees, shattered glass

July 1
As summer settles into its lush, green phase, I'm taking a closer look at the beautiful formations of leaves. This one swirls into a pinpoint of darkness, I wonder what lies beyond in there, what knowledge? What gravity or mysterious force pulls these swirls to a single, circular, unifying point?

July 1
A little further along my walk today, I passed a tree that was dropping what looked like flower nests. As I took this picture, several more perfectly formed flower nests plopped on the ground with a thud, thud. It was if the tree's twigs were rigged with springs for these flowers were, literally, before my eyes, bungee-jumping off the branches and flinging themselves to the ground. I'd never seen anything like it.

July 2
Today, I once again looked closely at leaf patterns. These tightly woven ones remind me of those strings of gimp I used to braid into necklaces and bracelets as a girl. Art from nature, of course.

July 3
Trying to get one decent picture of a bumble bee at work turned into a comedic event. I clicked and deleted many failed shots as these fellas move constantly, which made me wonder what keeps them going? Solar panels tucked into their yellow jacket cells? They are not eating and snacking all day, they are flying, lifting off, landing, moving, gathering, searching. Even this shot has a tiny blur as I only had one second at most to get a still moment. I have new respect for these amazing beings.This one, and dozens more, were harvesting this fully blooming hydrangea bush.

Looking into smaller worlds, I found this flowering, purple weed in the grasses. Perspectives around what is small, smaller and tiny become big, bigger and giant within the context that measures it. The question is: what's our ability to see into these dimensions, large or small? What do you think?  

This striped bloom, for instance, with its five definitive sluices that flow to the center--other flowers organize themselves around the number 6 or 4 or 3. Looking closer, these petal veins aren't so different than our fingerprints, a good reminder that we all connect in surprising ways.

July 4th - My short essay is published in The Huffington Post: Independence Day: Facing Fears of Violence.  Here's a link to it:  Hope you'll take a look and let me know your thoughts.

Charles River

My floppy statue of liberty crown

Field surrounding the hatch shell, where the Pops play and guests sing
July 6: At 3 a.m. last night, a body-shattering explosion startled and scared us out of sleep. My husband, son and I gathered in the dark to assess what it was? Silence followed, then we heard clinking, like rain, or hail on the porch floor. We went out to look. Somehow, the glass table top had spontaneously imploded, crashing into thousands of pebble-sized pieces on the deck. Relieved that it wasn't a prankster throwing a rock or anything sinister, we eventually went back to sleep. The next morning, we guessed the glass top probably had a small fissure. The excessive heat caused it to expand against the metal frame containing it, until the glass smashed inward. I swept up the remains and put it in a paper grocery bag. 

And, that, my friends, is how my week wrapped up.-- Shattered glass, which I always take to mean some kind of tension-building karma has been released. During this week in the world at large, we've had a tragic plane and train crash, and eruptions in Egypt. The list goes on, doesn't it. But, life goes on, too.