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From a 'Mutterland' reader…

Freiburg, Sept. 26, 2010 To: Christel Goettert Publishers re: Fern Schumer Chapman "Mutterland - nach dem Holocaust" I have read many books about the topic: memoirs from the Holocaust and after, including those from the perspective of daughters or sons of survivors. No other book so far has moved and occupied me so much, and I feel compelled to thank you for the publication of this text. I wish that ...

Trauma's secondary injury

Author Jessica Stern From Jessica Stern's book, Denial: A Memoir of Terror: "...when observers become complicit in the victim's desire to forget, they become perpetrators, too...When authorities disbelieve the victim, when bystanders refute what they cannot bear to know, they rob the victim of normal existence on the earth. Bystander and victim collude in denial or forgetting, and in so doing, repeat the abuse. Life for the victim now begins ...

Motherland's canvas

"Black Painting" by Stephanie Serpick (sserpick.com) A local book club selected Motherland as this month's featured work and invited me to participate in the group's discussion today. Each reader found her own way of relating to the story. One woman talked about how her mother was raised by adoptive parents who were alcoholics. (Her biological parents died when the girl was five.) "My mother didn't really know how to be ...

What bloggers are saying…

HickeyPicksjr From Children's Readers Advisory "In this day and age when immigration is a hot button issue for so many people, it is important to remember the suffering from which people are trying to escape. Fern Schumer Chapman tells a story based on her mother’s journey to America during the Nazi’s rise to power in Germany. .. a painful, but important book for a young person to read." From Mrs. ...

Art informs life…and memory, part 2

Author William Maxwell Just as words can replace memories, (see previous blog) pictures can replace and distort memories, too. William Maxwell put it vividly in his book, So Long, See You Tomorrow: "I seem to remember that I went to the new house one winter day and saw snow descending through the attic to the upstairs bedrooms. It could also be that I never did any such thing, for I ...

Art informs life…and memory

Writer Dani Shapiro Writing brings form to experience. It provides an order to life and, in the process, writing alters memory. In Sunday's New York Times Book Review section, writer Dani Shapiro states that readers "often think that writing a memoir must be cathartic. But, if anything, I found that it embeds the story more deeply in the writer. The story becomes frozen, in a way, by crafting of it. ...

A reader asks???

FSG, March 2010 You write in your Author's Note that the book represents the experiences of your mother and other child emigres from Germany of that era. Just curious ... was Aunt Mildred wholly your mother's experience? Edith's story in "N or D" came directly from my mother's experiences. I didn't even change the names of her relatives. The book is a work of historical fiction because I assumed my ...

Trauma: 'A Kind of Rehappening'

Author Tim O'Brien In The Things They Carried, author Tim O'Brien writes about the challenge of writing about his traumatic experiences in Vietnam: "I'm forty-three years old, and a writer now, and the war has been over for a long while. Much of it is hard to remember. I sit at this typewriter and stare through my words...and as I write about these things, the remembering is turned into a ...

'Get Low' on storytelling

Movie poster of "Get Low" If I were teaching a writing class right now, I would require all my students to go see the new movie, Get Low, with Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Bill Murray and Lucas Black. Sure that's an all-star cast, but that's not the reason for my insistence. For those who study narrative drive, this movie is masterful in its storytelling. My writing guru, Sol Stein explains ...