Max Apple’s people are the folks you might see having lunch at a local diner. There’s Sidney Goodman, the carwash king of Las Vegas, and Jerome Feldman, the outgoing president of the Ohio Association of Independent Pharmacists, along with others who sell scrap metal, industrial tools and trinkets. Apple has somehow eavesdropped over the leatherette booths and followed them out and into their lives, dreams and hearts.
Sam Fink loves the letters of the alphabet. He’s drawn to their forms as well as the words and sentences they create, the ideas they bring into being. A true man of letters, his talent is in using the symbols of the alphabet to make art that is grounded in words and goes beyond words.
A woman of biblical beauty, a dark-eyed Ethiopian gazing directly at the camera, appears on the cover of a new book of photographs, “Transformations: From Ethiopia to Israel” by Ricki Rosen, (Reality Check Productions). She’s wearing white embroidered robes, her hair covered with a kerchief. Flip to the back cover and fast forward 13 years, and the woman, with the hint of a smile, is dressed fashionably in an orange sweater, her hair falling loosely in tiny braids.
As a wedding is about to begin in North London, all eyes are on the mother of the groom. Claudia Rubin is tall, beautiful, brainy and voluptuous, a celebrated rabbi who leads a large congregation. She’s not officiating at her son’s marriage, instead letting the bride’s family’s rabbi, Nicky Baum, lead the rites. But the service never begins, for the groom runs off with the woman he loves, Rabbi Baum’s wife.
Poet, translator and publisher Peter Cole is among this year’s recipients of MacArthur Foundation fellowships, or genius awards, as they are popularly known. The no-strings-attached award, honoring creativity, includes a $500,000 stipend that is paid over five years.
Even books with footnotes can make for great summer reading.
For those who prefer their late summer fare more substantial than breezy novels and suspense fiction, many new works of nonfiction offer compelling reading. Some are inspirational, looking toward the month of Elul with its contemplative mood beginning the process of teshuvah; some break down stereotypes and perhaps prompt readers to rethink long-held assumptions.
Houses of Study: A Jewish Woman Among Books" by Ilana M. Blumberg is a slim volume, published by the University of Nebraska Press. It’s a quiet type of book, not one that shouts for attention — a book that could easily be missed among the thousands of new titles published each year.