Tag Archives: writing

First Desire, by Nancy Reisman

the-first-desire1 In First Desire by Nancy Reisman, we are given a set of characters who appear to be constantly yearning for acceptance and love, within the confines of the familial structure.

The Cohen family is composed of a tyrannical widower, Abe Cohen, and his five adult children, who seem to be stuck in a time warp, lost within the familial folds. The family unit is composed of four daughters (Jo, Sadie, Celia and Goldie) and one son (Irving). They are seemingly lifeless and unmotivated individuals, overpowered by loss, and by a dictatorial father.

All of them are still in mourning for their mother, and they are lost in a cycle of escaping the painful aspects of life. Their father, seems to be uncaring, and is a demanding and authoritarian individual, especially with his daughters. He escapes into a relationship with a women named Lillian Schumacher. Goldie can’t cope with the demands of her father, and the loss of her mother, and escapes by fleeing the house, leaving those behind to wonder about her, for years (not knowing whether she is dead or alive). Sadie questions her own sanity and the relationship with her husband, who only seems to want her company during times of sexual relations, and watches him become almost as tyrannical as her father. Jo is lost within her protective, obnoxious attitude, which is her form of escape. Celia escapes within her mind, which is sometimes coherent, but more often, not. Irving escapes into alcohol and gambling.

First Desire is adeptly written, and Nancy Reisman’s characters give us insight into depression, patriarchal pressures, and family interactions and dynamics, during the turbulent years that range from the late 1920s to 1950. They are believable individuals, and the climate of the decades is believable.

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Avner Gold New Release

If you are a fan of Avner Gold, then you will be delighted to learn that “the long awaited continuation” of his historical novel series “Rauch Ami”, “The Long Road to Freedom“, has been published. As in previous books of the series, “The Long Road to Freedom” is a novel whose journey brings into focus the plight of European Jews during 17th century.

You can read an excerpt of “The Long Road to Freedom“, here. It is the “immediate sequel to “The Marrano Prince“, which was the eighth book in the “Rauch Ami” series.

The table of contents to “The Long Road to Freedom“” can be seen here.

The new release has been a long time in coming, and is an exciting event.

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The Counterlife, by Philip Roth

Philip Roth has long been one of my favorite male authors, and in his novel, The Counterlife, I am reminded of his ability to blend the bizarre twists and turns that life throws us into a work of art that resounds with his full range and depth of literary intensity.

Nathan and Henry Zuckerman are estranged brothers, so very different, yet unaware how much alike they actually are. Nathan is an author, Henry is a dentist. For one of them, the reason for living borders on being able to be sexually active. In this respect, he decides to undergo surgery in order to counteract that problem. Even though the surgery could kill him, he elects to take that chance, all in the name of sexual identity. It is his counter life, to fit a desired outcome, a longing for what many of us want, a home, a family, marriage, and the “idealized” life.

Nathan, has long been estranged from Henry, and as an author, seems to live through his brother, writing novels whose characters include Henry. He has a counterlife through his stories, his fantasies and fiction, and his identity is one that is alive due to Henry. Although he is a prolific author in his own right, his works are derived from Henry’s life.

Therein lies the clue in this well written novel. The issue of identity, and what it means to us, is at the core of the story line. What one will do, in order to preserve identity, to create the life we long for, and what we view as our Self, our essence, is the soul of the book. The characters each invent a counter life, a life invented, a life created, in order to transfer their current life, into one they believe is better. The reader is exposed to the characters fears and how they choose to rewrite their own histories.

From travels to Israel, and connecting with one’s Jewish spirituality, to funeral attendance, and delivering a eulogy, from the streets of the U.S, to France, and England, we are confronted with issues of identity, including spirtiual, emotional, sexual, and all the levels and tiers in between. We are confronted with our own questions of identity, who we are, what we believe, and, finally the question of whether the end result is our own creation of ourselves?

Roth writes with humor, with seriousness, and with a profound and intense insight into the humanity, the insecurities, the deep fears, and the identity crises that exists within all of us. Roth’s strong words and strong theme, shows us how a counter life is not always productive, but could produce undesirable effects, in the end. We might not always receive what we wish for, but then again, we might receive it, but it could turn out that our counter life is actually counter-productive. Philip Roth’s The Counterlife is excellent, and his writing is masterful and brilliant, encapsulating the full range of emotions, and writing down to the bare bones, as only he knows how.

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On Beauty, by Zadie Smith

The novel, On Beauty, by Zadie Smith was awarded The Orange Prize, in June 2006, which is an award going to the best novel of the year, published in England, and written by a woman.

In On Beauty, Smith’s intensity and insight brings us to the forefront of the issues concerning beauty, and has us questioning and wondering what beauty is actually all about, and how do we define it within today’s cultural diversity. Is it physical, is it emotional, is it cultural, is it intelligence, or is it a combination of all, of some, of those factors. On Beauty is a cultural and psychological study on marriage, politics, self-esteem, infused with bits of humor, and is a must-read.

She has written two previous novels: White Teeth, and also The Autograph Man.
The Autograph Man deals with celebrity, conflict and loss, and how lives are shaped by those factors. This novel has won awards, including the 2003 Jewish Quarterly Literary Prize for Fiction. Smith’s insight into obsession and loss, and the need to find answers, the need to know who we are in the scheme of the world, is intense in this excellent novel.

Ms. Smith was born in 1975, in London. Her mother is Jamaican, and her father is English. Her first novel, White Teeth deals with cultural diversity in London, and won several awards, honors and prizes, including multi-culture awards, and the Best Female Newcomer award, to name two. We feel the struggle for identity and love within the brilliance of Smith’s writing. White Teeth goes beyond cultural differences, binding the reader to the novel, nonstop, until we have finished reading it.

~~Book Diva

© Copyright – All Rights Reserved – No permission is given or allowed to reuse my photography, book reviews, writings, or my poetry in any form/format without my expresss written consent/permission.

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Wicked, by Gregory Maguire

Wicked, by Gregory Maguire…I give it Five Stars!!

Have you ever wondered about Elphaba, The Wicked Witch of the West, and whether she really was as wicked as she has been portrayed, or, has she been stereo-typed and misunderstood, throughout the decades?

This fantasy-novel actually borders on reality, current events (both political and economical), and is a compilation of religious and cultural differences, religious and cultural prejudices, and how we stereotype individuals in society, in order fto feel superior to them, and in order for them to blend in within our own agendas, perspectives and organizational cultures.

We see Elphaba as a humane and caring individual, a person capable of empathy and love. But, through her own identifiying difference, within the cultural scheme, we also are given insight into how it feels (from her perspective), to be considered different than others, on the outside, but how alike she is to everyone in her heart, with the same needs, feelings and thoughts as most of us.

The book is more than timely, and leads one to ponder the current events in the world situation, today.

~~Book Diva

© Copyright – All Rights Reserved – No permission is given or allowed to reuse my photography, book reviews, writings, or my poetry in any form/format without my expresss written consent/permission.

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The Reluctant Tuscan, by Phil Doran

The Reluctant Tuscan, by Phil Doran…I give it Five Stars!

I am not so reluctant, after reading The Reluctant Tuscan, Phil Doran’s memoir. In fact, more than ever, I am eager for my trip to Tuscany to begin. The end of March can’t come soon enough for me.

The book is filled with humor, crazy moments, poignancy, and filled with the thoughts and emotions of a man on the edge, stressed beyond stress, who travels relucutantly to Tuscany, yelling, kicking, and fighting every minute of every mile of his journey.

What begins as a journey from Hollywood to Italy, turns out not only to be a journey to foreign soil, but also a journey towards inner peace, and a journey of the soul and heart. We laugh and we cry with Doran, we scream out in pain, and scream out in joy with him.
Doran reminds us of the anxiety and the reluctance of experiencing the unknown, of how we view change, and how we react and survive, emotionally, when being thrust into different situations that we are not familiar with.

Doran’s words and experiences dance on the pages, and his days don’t often blend smoothly, much like vinegar and oil, don’t go together. We see the sweetness along with the tartness in his poignant and hilarious book.

Reading this book is like being on an elevator, one minute you are up, the next minute you are down. But, the majority of the time, you find yourself laughing out loud, and glad to have taken the journey with Doran, if only through the pages of his fantastic memoir! His prose has whet my appetitie for everything Italian, and I am anxious to begin my own journey.
~~Book Diva

© Copyright – All Rights Reserved – No permission is given or allowed to reuse my photography, book reviews, writings, or my poetry in any form/format without my expresss written consent/permission.

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I Feel Bad About My Neck, by Nora Ephron

I Feel Bad About My Neck, by Nora Ephron…I give it Four Stars

This wicked and divine book, which is a cross between poignant/serious and outright hilarious, brings much comic relief to women who are aging. With Ephron’s sensible, yet comedic style (after all, she did bring us When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle), we are infused with scents, creams, lotions and bath oils, and see her state “I’m as smooth as silk”.

Her book chronicles the downfall (literally) of a woman’s aging body, from sagging breasts and chins, to thinning hair and thickening necks. Each page is crammed with ounces and pounds of laughter and tears, each story/piece a gem of its own, causing smiles to form on our faces…adding a few more wrinkles with each smile.

Ephron is not getting older gracefully, and admits it. Nothing she does can slow the process down…and she is fighting back at it every second and hour of the day.

If you want to feel bad about yourself, this book is a must read, and if you want to feel good about yourself, and laugh your way through those bad feel

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