Tim Blake Nelson’s quirky version of
a hard-won tikkun olam on view in ‘Leaves of Grass.’
Special To The Jewish Week
Tim Blake Nelson’s new film has a title, “Leaves of Grass,” that has two meanings for its protagonists — it explicitly references both the Walt Whitman magnum opus and marijuana. That’s only appropriate for a film that is structured around doubling, doppelgangers, secret lives and identities.
Whether in “The Nose” or his stop-animation,
artist William Kentridge’s work is unmistakably Jewish.
The Museum of Modern Art’s new retrospective of the work of the South African artist William Kentridge is organized around five themes. “Themes” is something of a misnomer, though, since the five sections of the show coalesce around what might more accurately be described as “distinct bodies of work.” Either way, several themes (and certainly more than five) recur in many sections, with at least one being very hard to ignore: Jewishness, an omnipresent feature throughout Kentridge’s oeuvre.
It's unusual for three first-rate contemporary Jewish writers (Philip Roth, Cynthia Ozick, and David Grossman) to pay homage in their fiction to a somewhat obscure literary figure. But in Ozick's novella "The Messiah of Stockholm," Grossman's novel "See Under: Love," and Roth's story "The Prague Orgy," the gossamer figure of Bruno Schulz, the extraordinary Polish Jewish writer killed by the Nazis, predominates.
Publishers Weekly, in its review of the fascinating new book “The Butcher’s Tale: Murder and Anti-Semitism in a German Town” (Norton), notes somewhat offhandedly that “although classed by the publisher as history/Judaica, this powerful volume will also appeal to true-crime readers…”
Ted Solotaroff wanted to name his memoir “Rachmones.” He was certain that there wasn’t a Jewish reader who wouldn’t understand the word Leo Rosten defines as pity, compassion in “The Joys of Yiddish,” but his editor, and a random sampling of younger Jews, convinced him otherwise. “It’s what this book finally is about,” the 70-year old distinguished editor, essayist, critic and now memoirist tells The Jewish Week.