Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests








Sunday, August 30, 2020

In Plain Sight - A Short Story by Mavis Gallant - first published October 17, 1993 in The New Yorker


In Plain Sight - A Short Story by Mavis Gallant - first published October 17, 1993 in The New Yorker


Included in The Collected Short Stories of Mavis Gallant and in Paris Stories


Buried in Print’s Mavis Gallant Project


Gateway to Mavis Gallant on The Reading Life


Peter Orner pays tribute to of one of the past century's great character builders, including his thoughts on In Plain Sight


Mavis Gallant


April 11, 1922 - Montreal


1950 - moves to Paris


September 1, 1951- publishes, in The New Yorker, her first short story.  She would publish 116 stories in The New Yorker. 


February 18, 2014 - passes away in her beloved Paris


Since March 2017 I have been reading through the short stories of Mavis Gallant, following the lead of Buried in Print.  I have access to about half the stories.  Buried in Print has three stories left to read, sadly “In Plain Sight” is the last of her stories included in The Collected Short Stories of Mavis Gallant.  The project will end in September.   


The central character in this story, he has appeared before, is Henri Grippes, a novelist living in Paris.  As the story opens, an air raid siren has just sounded:


“ON THE FIRST Wednesday of every month, sharp at noon, an air-raid siren wails across Paris, startling pigeons and lending an edge to the midday news. Older Parisians say it has the tone and pitch of a newsreel sound track. They think, Before the war, and remember things in black-and-white. Some wonder how old Hitler would be today and if he really did escape to South America.”


Concerns over memory, over aging, meditations on a “lost world” permeate this story as they do much of her work.


My mind is distracted by the dark times we are in.  Buried in Print and Peter Orner have written much more elegantly on this story than I can.


Reading through these stories with Buried in Print has been a great Reading life experience.  It takes real optimism to begin long term Reading Projects.  It means for me I am not giving up.


I look Forward to joining in on Buried in Print’s next project


Mel u







 

Friday, August 28, 2020

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson - 1980

 

Housekeeping was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and was awarded the PEN/Hemingway Award for best first novel.




As I finished Housekeeping I was somehow in shock by the sheer power of this work.  The Guardian in an essay in their 100 greatest novels of all time series (they place  it at 82) says 

It is “the work of an American writer, and Calvinist, intimately at home with the Bible and the great transcendentalists, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Herman Melville”.  I did find it also very much an American book. (Robinson has been highly praised by President Barack Obama.). It is also about drifters, people who do not quite fit into the surrounding societies.  Water has a heavy presence in Housekeeping.The plot line opens with a passenger train plunging from a railroad bridge into a lake, killing everyone on the train.  American church rituals and music  are replete with trains bound for glory.  


Housekeeping is the story of two orphan girls, Ruth and Lizzie. Both their grandfather and their mother drowned in the same lake the train plunged into.  The symbolism of water is as open to interpretation as that of the White Whale. It sustains life and brings death.  The novel is set in the imaginary community of Fingerbone, Idaho.  Not date is given but references set it in the early 1950s.


Narrated by Ruthie, the girls are raised by a series of eccentric relatives until their mother’s sister, their Aunt Sylvia shows up.

  Sylvia has long been a drifter.  She commits to acting as a “housekeeper” for her neices.  At first both girls think she will soon leave but then perceptions change:  “Ruth says: “I was reassured by her sleeping on the lawn, and now and then in the car. It seemed to me that if she could remain transient here, she would not have to leave.”  Much of the depth of Housekeeping is in the drawn of a transient life.  There are several brief stories of homeless drifters encountered on trains.  


Ruth begins to ponder the dark past of her family.  She is more comfortable with the behavior of Sylvia than her more conventional sister Lucille.


Sylvie wanders by the lake while the family house goes to pieces. Ruth, our narrator, is at home with her aunt’s transient spirit, and comfortable with solitude: “Once alone,” she says, “it is impossible to believe that one could ever have been otherwise. Loneliness is an absolute discovery.”  If Loneliness is an absolute discovery is housekeeping a way of hiding, and then we ask hiding from what.?


Lucille moves away, the Fingerbone community tries to have Sylvia declared an unfit guardian.  In response Ruth and Sylvia burn down their house.  They escape across the lake.  The town’s people assume they have drowned in the lake.  I will leave the rest of this fascinating novel untold.  In a way it is a novel of the reading life with both Sylvia and Ruthie having works of classic literature deeply impressed on them.  


From the Guardian 


“In the words of an early New York Times review, this novel is “about people who have not managed to connect with a place, a purpose, a routine or another person. It’s about the immensely resourceful sadness of a certain kind of American, someone who has fallen out of history and is trying to invent a life without assistance of any kind, without even recognising that there are precedents. It is about a woman who is so far from everyone else that it would be presumptuous to put a name to her frame of mind”.

As a modern classic, Housekeeping can bear any weight of interpretation. Like Fingerbone’s lake water, it has become a mirror in which generations of new readers can find themselves, as if for the first time”


I think this is correct but shallow.  Why or is the drifting life so powerful a draw?  There are many precedents in American history and literature for this.  What does Sylvia and Ruthie see the towns people do not.  


I have a copy of Robinson’s second novel Gilead on my E Reader and hope to read it soon. Gilead did win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.


From her publisher


“MARILYNNE ROBINSON is the author of Gilead, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award; Home, winner of the Orange Prize and a finalist for the National Book Award; and Lila, also a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. Housekeeping won the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her nonfiction includes Absence of Mind; The Death of Adam; Mother Country, nominated for a National Book Award; and When I Was a Child I Read Books. She teaches at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop”. 


She has so far published four novels and four essay collections.  I hope to read them all.


Mel u














Tuesday, August 25, 2020

A Father and his Fate by Ivy Compton-Burnett - 1957



A Father and his Fate by Ivy Compton-Burnett - 1957 - with an Introduction by Penelope Lively

“The purest and most original of contemporary English artists."
— Rosamond Lehmann

Opening question

From “Notes on Camp” by Susan Sontag - From Against Interpretation and other Essays - 1963

Do you agree with Sontag, are the novels of Ivy Compton-Burnett Camp?  I see Ronald Firbank but I am not so far seeing Ivy Compton-Burnett’s novels as camp.

“Random examples of items which are part of the canon of Camp: Zuleika Dobson Tiffany lamps Scopitone films LA The Enquirer, headlines and stories Aubrey Beardsley drawings Swan Lake Bellini’s operas Visconti’s direction of Salomé and ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore certain turn-of-the-century picture postcards Schoedsack’s King Kong the Cuban pop singer La Lupe Lynd Ward’s novel in woodcuts, Gods’ Man the old Flash Gordon comics women’s clothes of the twenties (feather boas, fringed and beaded dresses, etc.) the novels of Ronald Firbank and Ivy Compton-Burnett stag movies seen without lust”



Almost ten years ago I read my first Ivy-Compton-Burnett novel, Manservant and Maidservant.  At long last I have now read a second of her 19 novels, A Father and his Fate.


Ivy Compton-Burnett (1884 to 1969-London) wrote her first novel in 1911 and her last was published (after her death)  in 1971.   Her most famous and most still read work, Manservant and Maidservant was published after WWII in 1947.   To me she should be classified as  a "between the wars" British writer even though she her work extends well beyond that era  because her sensibilities are really quite Edwardian..    This puts her in the company of Katherine Mansfield , Virginia Woolf, and Ford Madox Ford.   The consensus is to see her as a writer of the second order behind the truly great writers of  the era.     She came from what seems to have been a very troubled family.    One of her brothers was killed in WWI and two of her sisters died together in a suicide pact.   Of her and her 12 siblings no one had child.

After doing a bit of post read research, reading articles by Francine Prose, Hilary Spurling and others, Father and his Fate centering around a late Edwardian Family, three unmarried living at home daughters, a wife, and ruling it as a despot the paterfamilias, Miles Mowbray is very much a prototypical  Compton-Burnett novel.The novel is almost entirely in dialogue.  Not everyone likes her work, some see her world as narrow, the same thing once being sad about Jane Austen, others say they do not find the conversations at all reflective of how real people speak. Some complain they cannot follow the plot or tell who is speaking.  Others adore her work and love the exquisite conversations.  I am in this category.

Words are weapons in A Father and his Fate, the weapons of the weak.

““I wonder if there is anyone in the world who cares for me,” said Miles, leaning back in his chair. “I often ask myself that question.” “Then you should answer it,” said Ursula. “It is less safe to put it to other people.”

 The three adult unmarried daughters live at home.  Penelope Lively in her introduction tells us

“To be young, in an Ivy Compton-Burnett world, is to be the lowest of the low: dependent, powerless, biding one’s time.”

Many a character in a 19th century novel has been largely occupied with waiting for a parent to die.

The opening lines of the novel set a stage for a dark drama

““MY DEAR, GOOD girls!” said Miles Mowbray. “My three dear daughters! To think I have ever felt dissatisfied with you and wished I had a son! I blush for the lack in me, that led me to such a feeling. I feel the blood mount to my face, as I think of it. I would not change one of you for all the sons in the world. I would not barter you for all its gold. And I am not much of a person for wealth and ease. I am happy as a countryman, husbanding the land his fathers held before him.”

We see how Miles views his place in the world, soon we will learn how the daughters and his wife feel about him and their lives.  There is a very dramatic turn of events I will leave untold.

A Father and his fate is available in the Kindle Unlimited Program.

I will soon read, I hope, her Darkness and Day.

Mel u








Thursday, August 20, 2020

Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past by David Reich - 2018



Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past by David Reich - 2018

An autodidactic corner selection.

Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past by David Reich is as fascinating a work as I have read in a long time.  If you have any serious interest in understanding how the human species evolved and spread all over the  in diverse forms, you will be spellbound by this book.

Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past was to me a challenging read.  I have very little formal training in science and none in the intricacies of DNA.  The book focuses on the results of the application of genome-wide testing of ancient DNA to human prehistory and genetics.  Doctor Reich is a leading researcher in this field.  Much of his work develops insights based on comparisons of ancient DNA from remains and modern groups.

He describes the book as intended to be both an introduction to this field for those new to the area and an overview for professionals in various impacted areas.  I left this book seeing how ancient migrations and mixing of groups produced the world today.

Using cutting edge technology Reich is able to deduce migration of human groups from many thousands of years ago.  Reich is acutely sensitive to the uses racists including the Nazis made of bogus genetic claims of race based genetics.  He talks about resistance to  Ancient DNA studies based on this.

The book is in part a memoir of his career.  He began his post doctoral research focusing on why members of some races are especially prone to certain diseases.  From this he began to study ancient DNA, how it lingers on in modern humans.


A look at the table of contents shows the broad scope of this book.

Part I The Deep History of Our Species
1 How the Genome Explains Who We Are
2 Encounters with Neanderthals
3 Ancient DNA Opens the
 Part II How We Got to Where We Are Today
4 Humanity’s Ghosts
5. The Making of Modern Europe
6 The Collision That Formed India
7 In Search of Native American Ancestors
8 The Genomic Origins of East Asians
9 Rejoining Africa to the Human Story Part III The Disruptive Genome
10 The Genomics of Inequality
11 The Genomics of Race and Identity
12 The Future of Ancient DNA

The website of Professor Reich is a great resource

https://reich.hms.harvard.edu/

Professor David Reich, of the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, is a pioneer in analyzing ancient human DNA to learn about the past. In 2015, Nature magazine named him one of “10 people who matter” in all of the sciences for his contribution to transforming ancient DNA data “from niche pursuit to industrial process.” He has received numerous awards, including the 2017 Dan David Prize in the Archaeological and Natural Sciences for the computational discovery of intermixing between Neanderthals and modern humans.

I hope to read through this book a second time this year.

Ancient DNA studies has really only being truly in process since 2010.  It will change as it develops and change our world view as it does.  The book is a celebration of the love of knowledge and the diversity of humanity.

Mel u






Tuesday, August 18, 2020

“Auction” - A Short Story by María Fernanda Ampuero - from her debut collection, Cockfight - 2020 - from Feminist Press - Translated from the Spanish by Francis Riddle




“Auction” - A Short Story by  María Fernanda Ampuero - from her debut collection, Cockfight - 2020 - - Translated from Spanish by Francis Riddle 

You may read today’s story here



“Auction” is part of what I call post Bolano Latin American fiction, works focusing on the consequences of terrible poverty, misogynistic cultures and machismo set within a violent society.  

The narrator of the story, a young woman, has involuntary memories of her childhood trips to cockfights with her father brought about by odors.  She is trying to figure out where she is being kept captive.

“There are roosters around here somewhere.
Kneeling, with my head down and covered by a filthy rag, I concentrate on hearing them: how many there are, if they’re in cages or inside a pen. When I was young, my dad raised gamecocks, and since there wasn’t anyone else to look after me, he’d take me along to the fights. The first few times, I cried when I saw the poor rooster ripped to shreds in the sand, and he laughed and called me a girl.
At night, giant vampire roosters devoured my insides. I would scream and he’d come running to my bed, and again he’d call me a girl.
“Come on, don’t be such a girl. They’re just roosters, dammit.””

She discovers her friendly cab driver has transferred her to an auction to be sold as a sex slave.

“I know that here, somewhere, there are roosters because I’d recognize that smell from a thousand miles away. The smell of my life, the smell of my father. It smells of blood, of man, of shit, of cheap liquor, of sour sweat and industrial grease. You don’t exactly have to be a genius to gather that this is some abandoned place, hidden away god knows where, and that I’m totally fucked.
A man speaks. He must be around forty. I imagine him fat, bald, and dirty, wearing a sleeveless white undershirt, shorts, and flip-flops; I imagine his pinkie and thumb nails are long. I can tell by the way he’s speaking that there are other people here. There’s someone else here besides me. There are other people on their knees, with their heads bent, covered by dark, disgusting sacks.
“Come on now, let’s all calm down—the first sonofabitch who makes a sound is gonna get a bullet in his head. If you all cooperate, we’ll all make it through the night in one piece.”
I feel his stomach brush against my head and then the barrel of a gun. No, he’s not joking. A girl cries a few feet to my right. I suppose she couldn’t handle the feeling of the gun to her temple. The sound of a slap.”

Young nubile women are not the most valuable items at the auction.  The biggest prize is a man from a gated community who looks like he could be ransomed.  The nightmarish auction begins with an innocent seeming woman, maybe a teacher.being stripped and raped in a kind of demonstration for the bidders.  The narrator cannot see what is going on but she can hear enough to figure it out.  After this, the rich man is auctioned.  Then it is the narrator’s turn. 

I will leave the ending untold other than say it was hilariously inventive.

María Fernanda Ampuero is a writer and journalist, born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, in 1976. She has published articles in newspapers and magazines around the world, as well as two nonfiction books: Lo que aprendí en la peluquería y Permiso de residencia. Cockfight is her first short story collection, and her first book to be translated into English.

Frances Riddle lives in Buenos Aires, where she works as a translator, writer, and editor. She holds an MA in translation studies from the University of Buenos Aires and a BA in Spanish literature. Her book-length publications include A Simple Story by Leila Guerriero (New Directions, 2017); Bodies of Summer by Martín Felipe Castagnet (Dalkey Archive Press, 2017); Slum Virgin by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara (Charco Press, 2017); and The Life and Deaths of Ethel Jurado (Hispabooks, 2017).

I hope to read the full collection soon.  If “Auction” is a fair sample, it should be a lot of dark fun. There are thirteen stories in the collection.

Mel u















M

Monday, August 17, 2020

The Collected Stories of Pinchas Goldhar - A Pioneer Yiddish Writer in Australia - “Cain” - A Short Story


 




The Collected Stories of Pinchas Goldhar - A Pioneer Yiddish Writer in Australia, with an introduction by Pam MacLean. 2016. Stories first published between 1931 and 1947 in Yiddish

I was delighted today to stumble upon a collection of short stories by a Yiddish language writer who moved from Poland to Australia, Pinchas Goldhar.

1901- Born in Łódź, Poland

1926 - Moves, along with his widowed father and three siblings to Melbourne, Australia.  The father was rightly concerned about the rise of antisemitism in Poland.  In her introduction to the collection Pam MacLean that in this period Australia was allowing all white immigrants to settle in the country.  

1931  - The first Yiddish language newspaper is started in Australia with Pinchas Goldhar as editor.  The Jewish population in Australia was culturally dominated by Jews from England but there were enough Yiddish readers to support publications and books,  Goldhar translated a number of Australian writers into Yiddish.  He also worked at his father’s dye factory.

1934 Marries and will have three children,  his son contributed an afterword to the collection.

1947- passes away in Melbourne 

Unlike Yiddish immigrants to New York City, immigrants to Australia did not have a vast community to support them.  You had to learn English.  Some immigrants found jobs in the city, others started ranches and farms in the outback.  Goldhar has several stories showing just how isolated these settlers were.  Just like immigrants in New York City, Australian Jews became aware of the horrors of the Holocaust.  This was something no Yiddish writer could ignore.  The first two stories in the collection have a Holocaust setting.

“Cain” is structured as a final letter to his family, from a well known physician:

“DOCTOR HERMANN LOWENSTEIN took his own life by hanging himself in a concentration camp near Dresden. He had been famous throughout the medical world for his scientific experiments and discoveries, and his death was met with a profound sense of regret amongst his contemporaries. He wrote a farewell letter to his family that the Nazis mistakenly overlooked. For a long time this letter travelled a difficult, hazardous and secret road and, when it finally reached Mrs Lowenstein, it was so torn and wrinkled that it was almost impossible to decipher –evidence of how difficult its path had been. 

“This is what Dr Lowenstein wrote in his letter: My loved ones, my dear Klara and children! This letter is not being written to you by a person who has killed himself but by a murderer, someone who has spilt his brother’s blood. I don’t want this letter to arouse your sympathy or be used in defence of my actions. I have sentenced myself to death but I still feel that it is an insufficient punishment for my crime. I am writing to let you know the terrible truth. I don’t want you to grieve over my death, I don’t want you to carry loving feelings for me.”

First published in 1933 in Yiddish, translated by Tania Bruce

I don’t want  to reveal why he sentenced himself to death other than to say it was from shame at what the Germans caused him to become.  The ending of this story, a story as sad as sad can be, is beautiful and redemptive of the human spirit. 

I downloaded the sample Kindle Edition.  It contains a preface, a very informative introduction and two complete stories including “Cain”.

This collection is a major edition to my understanding of the huge scope of Yiddish literature.  It is fairly priced.

Mel u

Sunday, August 16, 2020

“The Esrog” - A Short Story by Sholem Aleichem, translated by Curt Levian from The Yiddish - 1910?





“The Esrog” - A Short Story
by Sholem Aleichem, translated by Curt Levian from The Yiddish  - 1910?

You may read today’s story here.

Sholem Aleichem

1859 Born in The Ukraine, then part of the Russian Empire

1916 Dies in New York City, then part of The U.S.A.  His funeral is attended by 250,000

To most people, certainly me a few years ago, Yiddish writers were divided into two categories, Sholom Aleichem and a bunch of authors I have never heard about that I would never have read were it not for Yale University Press giving me a full set of The Yale Yiddish Library.  These nine volumes, introduced by top authorities in Yiddish Studies, include some of the great classics.
Among the works were two totally marvelous novels  by Sholom Aleichem.  All of the works were pre-Holocaust, written in Eastern Europe and Russia.  All were by men.  As Yiddish speakers left Europe, mostly to NYC then Toronto and Montréal women writers like Blume Lempel and Chava Rosenfarb began publishing in Yiddish.  I have talked a bit about the history of Yiddish Literature (running from around 1875 to maybe 2004 with the passing of the last of the emigrated writers) in prior posts.  My perception is most seriously into Yiddish Literature, a huge treasure trove of Short Stories, are “heritage readers” seeking ties with the world of their ancestors in Eastern Europe.  Behind it is also a powerful message to those who would destroy Jewish Culture, you lose, we win.  I read in this area because it is an incredibly wonderful literature.  The stories range from heart breaking to funnier than a Mel Brooks movie.  Yiddish scholarship has very strong support and thanks to the internet, and maybe especially The Yiddish Book Center, interest is rapidly growing.  YouTube has lots of good videos and readings of stories.

Anyway Sholom Aleichem is by far now most known Yiddish writer.  He is most famous from the movie Fiddler on the Roof based on his Tevye Cycle, centering on a Russian dairyman and his relationship with his daughters.

In order to appreciate this story you need to understand the import of the Esrog (sometimes translated as “Ettog” i. Ashkenazi tradition .

“Etrog (Hebrew: אֶתְרוֹג‎, plural: etrogim; Ashkenazi Hebrew: esrog, plural: esrogim) is the yellow citron or Citrus medica used by Jews during the week-long holiday of Sukkot as one of the four species. Together with the lulav, hadass, and aravah, the etrog is taken in hand and held or waved during specific portions of the holiday prayers. Special care is often given to selecting an etrog for the performance of the Sukkot holiday rituals.” - from Wikepedia

Here are opening line, showing Sholem Aleichem skill at quickly creating character through dialogue:

“ This year we’re going to buy an esrog,” my father declared, and I imagined my father coming to shul, like a respectable householder with his own esrog and lulav and not using the congregation’s as did other poor people in town.
When I heard this news, I could no longer restrain myself and told everyone in kheyder that this Sukkos we would have our very own esrog. But no one believed me.
“Look who’s getting his own esrog!” some of my pals snickered. “That pauper is going to buy himself his own esrog! He probably thinks it’s a cheap lemon!” “

You can feel the excitement in the family when the proud father shows his family the esrog:

“Well, Father did buy one and his hands quivered with joy as he held it. He called Mama and smilingly pointed to it, as though it were an expensive necklace.
Mama approached silently and slowly stretched her hand to take hold of the esrog, whose heavenly fragrance spread to every corner of the room.
“Oh, no,” he said. “Look, but don’t touch.  But if you want to sniff it, you may.”
But I wasn’t even offered that much. I wasn’t even allowed to get too close to it. Not even to have a peek at it. For it was too risky.
“Uh-oh! Look, who’s here,” said Mama. “If you let him come close he’ll bite off the stem.”
“God forbid,” said Father, wary of the evil eye.”

The father puts it in a cabinet and tells his son do not touch the sacred fruit.  Of course he cannot resist the temptation.

I will leave the rest of this marvelous story for you to discover













Thursday, August 13, 2020

Among Others by Jo Walton - 2010 - Winner of The 2012 Hugo and Nebula Wards


Among Others by Jo Walton - 2010 - Winner of The 2012 Hugo and Nebula Wards

If you are looking to expand your reading in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres, as the real world sucks right now, I suggest you look for Hugo and Nebula Award Winning works.

Among Others  focuses on a young woman, she is 15 when we meet her, who uses classic science fiction and fantasy works to help her cope with her life.  It is structured as a series of brief diary entries.  For sure the central character and narrator Morwena Phelps lives a very reading centered life.

She was raised by a mentally disturbed mother.  They lived in an abandoned industrial park in Wales.  Welsh fairies are fond of such places.  Morwena played with the fairies as a child.  Her refuge is in classic science fiction and fantasy works.  Her mother tries to use the spiritual forces for an evil purpose. She wants to take over the world.  She is a witch.   Morwena  is drawn into a contest of will with her mother which leaves Morwena half crippled and her twin sister dead when her mother causes a car wreck.  She is sent to to her father who she barely knows.  Luckily for her he also loves science fiction.  He places her in a boarding school.

Throughout the narrative Morwena sees fairies of all sorts.  We see her encounters with other girls, teachers, a helpful librarian.  She joins a book club and gets interested in boys.

The mother continues to harass her at school through threatening letters.  A great magical battle ensues.

I found this book fascinating.  I can very much relate to an adolescent who used books to escape from an unhappy existence in which she was made to feel like she was an outcast.  The more she reads, the more she sees beyond the world in which she was raised, the odder she is made to feel.

Of course she is attracted to magic and magic to her. Those who believe in the intrusion of magic into this world, as do I, will love this book.  Science Fiction fans will relish reading along with Morewena.

This is my first venture into the world of Jo Walton, I will be back.

Jo Walton won the Hugo and Nebula Awards in 2012 for her novel Among Others, and the Tiptree Award in 2015 for My Real Children. Before that, she won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and her novel Tooth and Claw won the World Fantasy Award in 2004. A native of Wales, she lives in Montreal.

Check her very interesting website for more information

http://www.jowaltonbooks.com/















Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Mark of Caine - A Short Story by Roxane Gay - 2017 . From her debut collection - Difficult Women

The Mark of Caine - A Short Story by Roxane Gay - 2017 . From her debut collection -  Difficult Women

You may read today’s story here.

Roxane Gay is one of the most celebrated of contemporary writers, for her essays as well as her fiction.  This is my second venture into her work.  I hope to read all of her work, Essays, Novels, Short Stories and her memoir Hunger.


I first read the lead story   in Difficult Women, “I Will Follow You” in June of this year.

“I Will Follow You” is about two sisters and their very close relationship.  The story begins with a scene with the older sister, her boyfriend and the younger of the two sisters.  We learn a bit about the men currently in their lives.  About twenty five percent into the story we learn about something horrible that was done to them as pre-adolescents that shapes their remaining days.

This is a story of a woman married to an evil man and having an affair with his twin brother, a decent man.  This sets the  stage

“My husband is not a kind man and with him, I am not a good person.
Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and he, Caleb, is kneeling over me, his fingers tracing my neck. I place my hands over his, the rough skin, the swollen knuckles. I squeeze.
I wear heavy eyeliner and dark lipstick because my husband once said that he always wants me to look the way I did the night we met in a bar, drunk and numb, looking for trouble before it found us. He can't stand to see me any other way, he said. He wasn't being nostalgic.”

Clearly not exactly a relationship that brings out the best in either partner.

“My husband has an identical twin, Jacob. Sometimes they switch places for days at a time. They think I don't know. I am the kind of woman who doesn't mind indulging the deception.”

There really are two Brothers, not two sides to one man.  They run an architectural firm.  Jacob has a girl friend.  Sometimes they switch places and women can tell only by their behaviour.

I don’t want to convey more of the plot of this acute story.  The ending is fascinating.








Monday, August 10, 2020

999 The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Transport to Auschwitz by Heather Dune Macadam 2020 - 486 Pages



 999 The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Transport to Auschwitz by Heather Dune Macadam 2020 - 486 Pages



This is currently The Best Selling Holocaust book on Amazon.


In March of 1942 the Germans were in control of Slovakia.  They issued an order that 1000 unmarried Jewish women be brought to the train station.  The official word was the women,the author consistently refers to them as “our girls”, were being sent to work for three months in a shoe factory in Germany.  The official documents families received said they would be paid, could send money home, and would be well fed and cared for.  Most people believed this.  Many of The girls saw it as an adventure and a way to earn money to help your family.  Parents were apprehensive but most wanted to obey the government.


The Holocaust killed six million million.  Powerful books like 999 The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Transport to Auschwitz help transform for the reader an unfathomable number into real individual people.  


In the opening segments Macadam shows us the what home life of the girls was like. The girls, sixteen to twenty-one were very precious to their family, cherished, treated gently.  They had the best food and clothing their families could afford.  At the slightest illness the family doctor came to the House.  Most were raised in families that closely followed Jewish traditions.  Girls stayed home until they married, sometimes for love but often arranged.  I said to myself, these girls grew up just like our three daughters, now 22, 25 and 28.  Of course i knew what was going to happen to the transported girls.


When the girls arrive at the train depot they find not a comfortable passenger train but filthy cattle cars.  The girls cannot easily get into the cars.  As they struggled the guards called them “Jewish Whores” and whipped slower girls while dogs barked.  The cars were way over crowded, there was one bucket for waste, one for water in a car with forty girls.The food was very inadequate and garbage compared to what they had a home. Two girls died on the train.


Horrible things begin to happen shortly after they arrive.  They are made to take all their clothes off to be inspected while guards stood learing.  Their heads were shaved as was their pubic hair.  They were tattoed.  The idea is to strip the girls of their identity. The guards were the scum of Germany.  We see they stole as much as they could from goods that were supposed to go to the German war effort.  It was so sad to learn many parents sent money to their daughters.  


The story of survival of few and death of all but twenty so was perfectly told. The author has done extensive reseatch and tells us the fates of individual girls, those  who died early and girls who would live into their nineties.  Some of surviving girls from repeated kicks to the lower body, years of horrible diet either could not conceive or would miscarry.  Contrary to many generations, almost none had more than two children.  The survivors found their families wiped out, their old homes stolen.  Very few stayed in Slovenia, some moved to Israel, some Canada, America or Australia.  Some repudiated their faith,seeing God as having abandoned them.  Some eventually got reperations from Germany.  Macadam says they got on average for each hour worked as a slave labourer $0.39.


999 The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Transport to Auschwitz by Heather Dune Macadam is narrative non-fiction raised to an art form.  


There is detailed bio data at 


http://heatherdune.com/


Mel u














































Sunday, August 9, 2020

Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor - 1971





Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor - 1971

I offer my thanks to Buried in Print for suggesting this marvelous novel

The New Yorkerwhere she published many of her short stories, has a good overview of her life and work

“Elizabeth Taylor's exquisitely drawn character study of eccentricity in old age is a sharp and witty portrait of genteel postwar English life facing the changes taking shape in the 60s . . . Much of the reader's joy lies in the exquisite subtlety in Taylor's depiction of all the relationships, the sharp brevity of her wit, and the apparently effortless way the plot unfolds . . . Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont is, for me, her masterpiece―Robert McCrum, 'the 100 best novels', “The Guardian


July 3, 1912 - Reading, England

1971 - Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont is short listed for The Booker Prize

November 19, 1975 -Penn, England
 Some novels are so beautifully sad they almost hurt to read.  Mrs Palfrey at Claremont is a haunting work.  It tells a bleak story about what it was like to be an elderly woman with little family that cared about you in England after the Wars.

On a cold wet English morning the elderly Mrs. Palftey checks into The  Claremont Hotel, where she will spend the rest of her days.  The hotel is a place  you go when you cannot quite live alone anymore and no one wants to bother with you.  Of course you have to have an independent income to pay the hotel.  It puts England in a very harsh light as a place where the old are thrown away.  As I read it, I am 73, I knew I am lucky to have a very close family and live in a society that respects the elderly.

Mrs Palfrey soon gets into the social life, most of the permanent residents are women, of the Claremont.  Mrs Palfrey, now a widow, spent time in Burma when her husband was an administrator there.  She does have the English “Stiff Upper Lip”.

The women in The Claremont group often talk about their relatives, each one trying to top the other.  Almost no one gets a visitor.  Mrs Palfrey one day makes up a grandson who she says works in the archives of The British Museum, so she will have some one to talk about.  One day she takes a fall while out for a constitutional.  A young man helps her get up.  She invites him to the Claremont for a meal, telling him to pretend he is her grandson. It may not sound like it, but this is all hilarious while very sad.

The deceptions pile on and Mrs Palfrey and her pretend nephew become very close.  We learn about the family history of his mother and sit in as he gets a girlfriend.

The prose is just so exquisite, every sentenced is like a polished emerald.  Some pages left me stunned.

This novel is for sale as a Kindle edition for $0.99.  It can be read in one evening.  My guess is many will add her to their read through list.

She published 11 novels and a number of short stories.  Her stories and nine of the novels are available in Kindle format.  I hope to read them all.










Saturday, August 8, 2020

“Aunt Taibele” - a short story by Sarah Hamer-Jacklyn, translated from The Yiddish by Miranda Cooper - first published 1965, translated 2020




“Aunt Taibele” - a short story by Sarah Hamer-Jacklyn, translated from The Yiddish  by Miranda Cooper - first published 1965, translated 2020

You may read “Aunt Taibele” here 

Born 1905 in Novvoradomsk, Poland

Immigrated 1904 to Montreal, with her parents

Passes on in 1975 in Montreal

Sarah Hamer-Jacklyn was a long time preformer in the Montreal Yiddish Theater.  Second to New York City, Montreal had a large number of Yiddish immigrants.  While merging with much success into Canadian society, they cherished their heritage. 

In addition to acting, Hamer-Jacklyn was a very frequent contributor of short stories to Yiddish language periodicals.

On January 9 2019 I posted upon two Short Stories by Sarah Hamer-Jacklyn included in The Exile Book of Yiddish Women Writers / edited by Frieda Johles

Today’s story ends with a pandemic taking a high toll.  It seemed very appropriate somehow to post on this now.  The story also reflects the closeness though hardly drama free families of the shtetls of Eastern Europe and Russia.

“Aunt Taibele” is both funny and very sad, a combation not uncommon in Yiddish literature.  The story is set in Nowo-Radomsk,Poland.

Here is the opening description of Aunt Taibele:

“Aunt Taibele was coming to Nowo-Radomsk from Gwoźnica. She was really more of a distant relative, but the whole family called her “aunt.”

In our house, there was always talk of “Aunt Taibele.” Grandma used to travel to Gwoźnica often to visit her and her husband and see to it that the young couple always had food on the table. She told us that Moyshe Haim, Taibele’s husband, complained that his wife was a public nuisance, a wicked woman, a shrew. And Taibele said that her husband was a glutton and a drunkard—he had to have a snack before he went to daven, and what’s more, he was a big bon vivant. Grandma always sided with Aunt Taibele.”

Aunt Taibele is divorced with one child.”Whereever she went she was angry and sullen, full of grievances against the world and her ex-husband”.She soon moves out on her own and establishes a business making and selling soap.

“She only stayed with us for two weeks, during which time she found herself an apartment and started a soap business. Once a week on market day, she would set up a little stand for her homemade soap and sell it to ladies. During the rest of the week she courted customers in well-to-do houses and sold them fragrant, exotic soaps. She never borrowed from anyone but also hated to pay out of her own pocket. This business was her source of income. Her only goal in life was to take pity on people, help the sick, collect charity for the destitute. She applied cupping glasses to her patients and leeches under their ears, helped ward off the evil eye, and anointed the ill with salve and ointment that she had made herself from various medicinal herbs. Aunt Taibele never missed a funeral. She would weep and accompany the corpse to the cemetery. With secret joy, she listened to the difficulties of sad souls and consoled them. And soon all of Nowo-Radomsk called her “Aunt Taibele”.

Soon people in the community begin looking for a new husband for her.  But she rejects perfectly decent men.  She has one close friend, a widower with a sick son. Somehow this woman’s misery draws her to her.  Once the widow marries a grocer with a secure income Taibele draws away.

Then one fine day Taibele marries again, to a grave-digger.  

“Aunt Taibele married the gravedigger, who was an energetic man, but unclean and unkempt, with a neglected house. The whole shtetl speculated that the couple wouldn’t even last as long as the time between the Fast of Esther and Purim. 
But it soon became clear that this was a match made in heaven. The marriage imbued Aunt Taibele with new life. A red flush spread across her cheeks. Her ever-sour face shone. She replaced all her household items, threw away the old beds, bought new ones. She shined her bronze candlesticks, hung new curtains, scoured, polished, and bleached the two rooms. Suddenly she became a real lady of the house, and saw to it that her husband was clean and well put together. She cooked and baked. She also worked together with her husband at the cemetery, accompanying each new corpse, never leaving the grave until the last shovelful of earth had fallen.”


Then a plague began to spread in the area.  There was a Custom at the time to hold what were called “Plague Wedding” were staged in an effort to ward of the plague.  Here is Miranda Cooper’s explanation of this:

“plague weddings, known as mageyfe khasenes or shvartse khasenes. This superstitious ritual involved marrying people on the margins of society to one another in an effort to ward off the plague. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been increased interest in this ritual, still little-known in many Jewish communities”.

“Then a plague broke out in Nowo-Radomsk. The rabbi ordered that the black khupe be erected over the cemetery. The whole town, under the leadership of Aunt Taibele, got involved. An orphan girl was found and married to Berele, the town fool. Aunt Taibele stood in for the orphan’s mother for the wedding. She and another community matriarch went to the stores for meat, fish, challah, wine, and liquor, and they set about cooking.  
Almost the whole town gathered at the cemetery. Aunt Taibele and her husband accompanied the orphan bride to the khupe. Aunt Taibele, dressed in her silk dress, distributed food among the poor and announced the wedding presents, gathering them all in a large box. She even found an apartment for the young couple. When the plague began to subside, she felt that it was thanks in large part to her and her husband.”

The story ends happily.  

Sarah Hamer-Jacklyn (1905–1975) Born in Novoradomsk, Poland, Sarah Hamer-Jacklyn immigrated to Canada in 1914. Captivated by the Yiddish theatre in Toronto, she began her career as an actress and singer at sixteen. Retaining her love of Yiddish as well as her dramatic connection with the theatre, her short stories serialized in the Canadian Yiddish daily Der Keneder Adler, as well as in major literary journals, depict a wide range of subjects spanning shtetl life, Holocaust narratives, and women’s search for creative expression in America. Her collection of short stories, including Lebens un gestalten ( Lives and Portraits) and Shtamen un tsveygn ( Stumps and Branches), published in the 1940s and 1950s, were received with critical acclaim. From The Exile Book of Yiddish Women Writers / edited by Frieda Johles Forman


Miranda Cooper is a New York–based writer, editor, and literary translator. Her translations from Yiddish have been published in Jewish Currents and Pakn Treger, and her literary and cultural criticism has been published by Kirkus Reviews, Jewish Currents, Tablet, JTA, In geveb, Alma, the Jewish Book Council, and the Yiddish Book Center. She currently serves as an editor of In geveb and was a 2019 Yiddish Book Center Translation Fellow.

This is my fourth story by Sarah Hamer-Jacklyn.  I hope a collection of her stories will be published soon.























Thursday, August 6, 2020

Joe Gets Suspended from The Union - A Short Story by Y. Y. Zevin - 1909 . Translated from The Yiddish by Dan Setzer - 2015

Joe Gets Suspended from The Union - A Short Story by Y. Y. Zevin - 1909 . Translated from The Yiddish by Dan Setzer - 2015

This story is included in the collection of stories by Y. Y. Zevin, Joe The Waiter, translated  by Dan Setzer

You may read today’s story here

Israel Joseph Zevin published under several names, Y. Y. Zevin and Tashrak were the most common. He also published as himself.  (There is a detailed bio below.)

Born - 1872 in Horki, Belorussia

1887 - Moves to New York City

Dies - 1926 in New York City

Isreael Zevin was a very prolific multi-genre writer.  He published in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish.  It is for his brief humorous fictions about immigrates getting used to New York City that he are still read.

“Joe Gets Suspended” must have made New City readers of Yiddish (estimated at about 250,000) laugh and wryly smile saying “yeah that is how things are for a man trying to make a living as a waiter in New York City.  Joe, a member of the Waiters Union, is serving dinner.  A union official enters the restuarant and advises him he has been suspended from the Union.  If he keeps serving, they will throw a strike closing The place down.  Through some weird Union rules sevice cannot be resumed to the customers.  They must start over with a new waiter.  Some get mad and walk out.  Joe asks “why am I suspended.?”  He is told he must come to a union meeting at one A. M, waiters often work until midnight.

The reason for his suspension was just so crazy I was delighted by inventiveness of the author.



TASHRAK (Heb. 1926–1872; תּשר״ק), most common pseudonym of Israel Joseph Zevin, a humorist and pioneer of the Yiddish press in America. Born in Horki (Belorussia), Zevin immigrated to the U.S. in the late 1880s. From 1893 until his death he was on the staff of the Orthodox daily Yidishes Tageblat in New York, and wrote under his own name and the pseudonym Yudkovitch. He became a member of the paper's editorial board and for a time served as its editor-in-chief. From 1924 he wrote, under the names Dr. A. Adelman and Meyer Zonenshayn, for the Morgn Zhurnal, also in New York. His writings – stories, feuilletons, and articles on current affairs – appeared in other American newspapers and in the foreign press. He won recognition principally for his humorous tales about the typical Jewish immigrant's adventures in the U.S. (later these appeared in book form as Y.Y. Zevins Geklibene Shriftn ("Selected Works of Y.Y. Zevin," 1906); Geklibene Shriftn ("Selected Works," 1909); and Tashraks Beste Ertseylungen ("Tashrak's Best Stories," 4 vols., 1910). He also published anthologies of aggadot, midrashim, and proverbs (Ale Mesholim fun Dubner Magid ("The Complete Proverbs of the Dubner Maggid," 2 vols., 1925); Ale Agodes fun Talmud … ("The Complete Aggadot of the Talmud," 3 vols., 1922); Der Oytser fun Ale Medroshim, ("The Complete Treasury of Proverbs," 4 vols., 1926)), which he had collected and translated into Yiddish toward the end of his life. Zevin wrote children's stories (Mayselekh far Kinder, "Stories For Children," 1919), a number of stories in Hebrew, and a posthumously published novel. From 1905 he began to write in English, mainly translating his own stories which appeared in the English section of the Tageblat and in the weekly American Hebrew. Between 1914 and 1917 he was a regular contributor to the Sunday issue of the New York Herald, and became known for his essays, interviews, and humorous pieces on New York Jewish life.

From https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/tashrak

Dan Setzer is a Maryland-based translator of Yiddish and Italian. He is currently translating the memoirs of a German soldier who served in World War II.

I offer my thanks to Dan Setzer for making this and other heritage stories available

Mel u

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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Villa of Delirium by Adrien Goetz - 2017 - translated from the French by Natasha Lehrer - 2020 - published by New Vessel Press




Villa of Delirium by Adrien Goetz - 2017 - translated from the French by Natasha Lehrer - 2020 - published by New Vessel Press




Paris in July 2020 - Hosted by Thyme for Tea - extended for a week

Villa of Delirium is a work anyone seriously into European Art and Literature will love.  It centers on an affluent French Jewish Family, the  Reinachs, who re-creating a Greek Villa on the Rivera.  They are related to the Rothchilds and other wealthy Jewish families.The story begins in the early 1900s and follows the families history through much of the 20th Century.  The family was taken from history though the narrator Achilles the narrator is not.

The Reinachs were at their zenith during the Belle Époque era in France.  We are given a marvelous insiders view of the scholars, deeply read auto-didacts and art connoisseurs in the family. Ultimately it becomes an account of how the monsterous events of World War II not only destroyed the  Villa but almost took down three thousand years  of European culture and history.

The narrator Achiles is son of a servant at the estate of the Eiffel family, living nearby.  He is adopted by the Reinach and is taught to read ancient Greek literature.  He narrates construction of the viila.

I don’t wish to reveal to much of the plot lines which follows Achilles  Life.

What I think I liked best sbout Villa of Delirium was Achilles numerous interior monlogues about literature and art.  He sees the decay of European culture much as did Stefan Zweig.

I can see myself rereading this book for sure.



Adrien Goetz is a novelist who teaches art history at the Sorbonne in Paris. He is editor of Grande Galerie, the quarterly magazine of the Louvre Museum.  From newvesselprrss.com

Mel u
















Tuesday, August 4, 2020

“Bettering Myself” - A Short Story by Ottessa Moshfegh - from her debut collection Home Sick for Another World - 2017 - first published in The Paris Review - Spring 2013



“Bettering Myself” - A Short Story by Ottessa Moshfegh - from her debut collection Home Sick for Another World - 2017 - first published in The Paris Review - Spring 2013

You can read today’s story here

An interesting unusual interview with Ottessa Moshfegh

A fascinating article from The Guardian

I first became aware of the fiction of Ottessa Moshfegh in an article on the best debut  collections of short stories published in 2017.  I am very glad to have found her.

“Bettering Myself” is the lead story in her very highly reviewed collection Homesick for Another World.

The narrator of the story is a math teacher at a Catholic School.   A lot of the students are from families of immigrants from the Ukraine.  She is thirty, receiving alimony from an ex-husband who she sometimes calls when intoxicated to complain about her life. She drinks a lot of beer supplemented with whiskey.  She has a boyfriend.  Her description of their relationship contains a very thinly disguised play on words I heard long ago in a Mae West movie:

“The boyfriend came and went on weekends. Together we drank wine and whiskey, romantic things I liked”.

She pretty much hates her job.  Here is her daily routine:

“Between classes I took the sleeping bag out, locked the door, and napped until the bell rang. I was usually still drunk from the night before. Sometimes I had a drink at lunch at the Indian restaurant around the corner, just to keep me going — sharp wheat ale in a squat, brown bottle. McSorley’s was there but I didn’t like all that nostalgia. That bar made me roll my eyes. I rarely made my way down to the school cafeteria, but when I did, the principal, Mr. Kishka, would stop me and smile broadly and say, “Here she comes, the vegetarian.” I don’t know why he thought I was a vegetarian. What I took from the cafeteria were prepackaged digits of cheese, chicken nuggets, and greasy dinner rolls.”

The narrator is a bit of a mess but I liked her.   All of the schools students took a statewide test every year.  Teachers were judged by how their students did on the test. Sadly for her, she teaches the worst students.  So after the tests are completed she takes them home changes the answers so her students seem brilliant.  The principal praises her for her students showing,it makes him look good also.

I will leave the rest of the story for you to read.  “Bettering Myself” is a work of dark dead pan humour which the narrator uses to get through her day.

I plan to do a read through of this collection, hopefully this year.



Ottessa Moshfegh is a fiction writer from New England. Eileen, her first novel, was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Man Booker Prize, and won the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction. My Year of Rest and Relaxation, her second novel, was a New York Times bestseller.














Monday, August 3, 2020

Today two Between the Wars Stories Set in Paris by Icons of American Literature, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald are featured.








Today two  Between the Wars Stories Set in Paris by Icons of American Literature, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald are featured.  Their time in Paris is the stuff of literary legends.


“My Old Man” by Ernest Hemingway - 1923 - first published  in Three Stories and Ten Poems by Contact Publishing - A small Parisian publisher owned by Robert Menzies McAlmon - (his time in Paris would be an interesting story, perhaps for Paris in July 2021)

“Babylon Revisted” by F. Scott Fitzgerald - 1931 - initially published in The Saturday Evening Post 

Ernest Hemingway 

Born - July 21, 1899 - Oak Park, Illinois

May 1918.  He arrives in Paris just as it is under attack by the Germans 

January 1919 - returns to the USA

October 1921 - returns to Paris with his first wife to work as a foreign correspondent for The Toronto Star.  He meets James Joyce and Ezra Pound,  Gertrude Stein becomes his mentor.  

September 1923 - He and his wife return to Toronto. Hemingway misses Paris and they return January 1924

 By June  1925 he meets  F. Scott Fitzgerald and formed an on and off friendship marked by some discord 

March 1928 - His second wife wants to return to America so he does

Hemingway returns to France June of 1944 as a War Correspondent.  On August 25th  he enters Paris with the American Army.

After The war he returns to America but Will come back with his third wife in 1948

October 1954.  He received The Nobel Prize.

In October of 1956 he returns to Paris, staying at The Ritz

July 2, 1961 - dies Ketchum, Idaho

“My Old Man” was one of very first Short Stories Hemingway published.   Set in Paris, it is narrated by a young American man.  His father is a jockey.  They ride hordes together, hang out in cafes that horse racing people frequent.  They drink a lot.  Hemingway gave me a sense of horse racing in Paris.  The story ends in tragedy.

This is an historicallly interesting story.  Hemingway is just starting to learn his craft.

F.Scott Fitzgerald 


F. Scott Fitzgerald was the author of four novels and 164 Short Stories 

Born: September 24, 1896 - St. Paul, Minnesota 

1920 to 1940 - Married to Zelda Fitzgerald 

April 1924 - With Zelda he moves to Paris

The Great Gatsby is published in April of 1925,  initially the reviewers were unkind.  To me the last ten pages are among the most  transcendently beautiful I have ever read.  He completed it while living on the French Rivera.

From 1924 to 1926 they will alternate between Paris and the French Rivera with stays in Rome

He becomes friends with numerous American expatriates including Ernest Hemingway 

October, 1926.  He and Zelda move to Hollywood where he begins a career as a screen writer 

Dies:  December 21, 1940 - Hollywood, California 

“Babylon Revisited”, opens in the Ritz Bar in Paris, Charles Wilson is talking to the bartender, the stock market crashed not long ago, about the days when Paris was full of rich Americans living an alcohol fuel stock market money funded life of non-stop partying.  He runs into a still rich American couple he used to spend time with.  This turns out to be a very unfortunate meeting for him.He has himself returned to Paris from the USA.  Much of the focus of the story is on how the Depression has changed the behavior of Americans in Paris. Most Parisians are glad many of the once rich Americans have gone home. 

Charles used to be an extreme drinker and party goer, living the life of the rich in the Roaring Twenties.  He now has one drink a day. He lost his money in the market crash, his wife died, he gave up custody of his daughter to her sister-in-law. He now  has a job lined up in Prague and wants to regain custody of his daughter.  He plans for his sister to join them to help out.

His sister-in-law blames Charles for her sister’s death.  One night Charles saw his wife kissing  another man at a party. He leaves her out in the snow. After this she develops pneumonia and dies.  She was evidently a  serious alcoholic and her sister blamed Charles for this.

The daughter Honoria wants to go live with her father.  His sister-in-law overcomes her initial trepidation at the idea, being convinced Charles is reformed, agrees to let him have his daughter.  All seems going well when the friends he met at the Ritz Bar stop by to see him at the house of his sister-in-law.  They are drunk and invite Charles to go to a party with them.  I will leave the conclusion untold but it is not a happy ending.

The movie, Midnight in Paris, features Ernest Hemingway and the Fitzgeralds.  I found it fun to watch it, on Amazon 
Prime Video.

Mel u