Norman Mailer could throw a punch, but as a writer he bobbed and weaved around his Jewishness.
Special To The Jewish Week
One virtue of the novel is that fictional characters often outlive the novelist who created them. Actually, that’s one of the reasons why some people give up their day jobs to tell stories instead. Aside from having children, fiction writing is one of the best ways to leave evidence of oneself. And, in some cases — think Atticus Finch, Ebenezer Scrooge, and Tom Sawyer — it can even lead to immortality.
At the Koret Jewish Book Awards last week in San Francisco, Stanford Professor and Koret Awards chair Steven Zipperstein asked for a minute of silence to remember Saul Bellow, who had just died. Zipperstein rightly praised Bellow for his unique contribution to Jewish and American letters, and we must give Bellow his due for helping create a new American language mixing high and low, combining the immigrant’s energy with the scholar’s subtlety.
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.
Saul Bellow, the son of Russian Jewish emigres who became the most prominent member of a generation of Jewish-American writers to emerge from World War II, was remembered this week as a literary giant who did not want to be bound by the tag of Jewish writer.
Mr. Bellow, often regarded as a “novelist of ideas” for the big themes he tackled, died Tuesday at home in Brookline, Mass. He was 89.
Back in the Middle Ages, cartographers would draw maps of the world with the Holy Land in dead center, and if you never saw those maps you could pick up the Week in Review section of The New York Times and get the idea.
On one page of the section, Thomas Friedman’s column, “Obama and the Jews” was really about Israel and Friedman’s realization that those who care about Israel will be wiser to vote for the candidate “who will make America strongest ... Nothing would imperil Israel more than an enfeebled, isolated America.”