Tag: American

Harry Bernstein’s ‘Invisible Wall’

Harry Bernstein was 96 years old when his memoir, “The Invisible Wall: A Love Story That Broke Barriers,” was published to great critical acclaim two years ago. Last year he followed up his success with a second memoir, “The Dream,” which similarly has attracted much favourable attention and legions of readers. This year, at 98,…

On Graphic Novels

So many books, so little time. It was in the year 1859 that British literary critic David Masson noted that something astounding was happening to English literature. Two novels were being published in London each week, Masson observed, making it impossible for readers to keep up with the entirety of modern fiction. Henceforth, each person…

On Jewish Memoirs and Autobiography

On the several occasions when I’ve enrolled in creative-writing or memoir-writing workshops, usually with the aim of finishing a particular story that I’ve written, I’ve always been struck by the wealth of literary talent seated around the table. This has generally come as a pleasant surprise, since I’ve also observed that few people possess the…

Stern’s Frozen Rabbi

Fifteen-year-old Bernard Karp finds a strange heirloom in the food freezer in the basement of his family’s suburban Memphis home: a greenish block of ice containing a frozen rabbi, a Jewish Rip van Winkle lying in peaceful repose as if flash-frozen in the midst of a relaxing afternoon shluff. Confronted at the dinner table, Bernie’s…

There Is No Other

There Is No Other (Exile Editions) offers a collection of compelling stories by former Torontonian Jonathan Papernick (now of Boston), in which we meet a caretaker who has a vision of the Virgin Mary in a Reform Temple in Boston; an angry Jewish kid who comes to a school Purim party wearing a Mohammed costume…

The End of the Jews: Novel

Like David Homel’s Midway, The End of the Jews by Adam Mansbach is a witty literary miniature with Jewish characters. Published in 2008, it tells the story of three interlocking characters — a grandfather and grandson both named Tristan Brodsky, and Nina Hricek, a teenaged photographer in Czechoslovakia. The narrative unfolds in the present tense…

Neil Simon memoir

If the word “bittersweet” has often been associated with phenomenal American playwright Neil Simon, one need only read his recent memoir Rewrites (Simon & Schuster, 1997) to understand why. In it, he shares a string of typically good-humored tales of his quick ascent up the ladder of theatrical success, from his days of writing for television…

Emma Lazarus bio

Emma Lazarus, who died 120 years ago at the premature age of only 38, fixed her place in American literary history through her poem “The New Colossus,” which famously graces a bronze plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty. Some of its stanzas are too well known to bear repeating even today, but,…

Orchestrating the American Dream: Bernstein family history

Sam Bernstein, a New England industrialist who acquired the franchise to the Frederics hair-styling machine in the mid-1920s, became a remarkable overnight success after America was seized by a permanent-wave craze at the height of the flapper era. “One day in 1927, I didn’t have a nickel to my name,” he used to say. “The…

Gone but not forgotten: author Margaret Mitchell

Timorous and untested as an author, Margaret Mitchell persuaded herself during her seven-year literary labour that the manuscript she was working on was so terrible it would never be printed. Like a woman enceinte but too modest or superstitious to tell anyone, she kept the project a secret from friends and acquaintances. Only her husband…