Archive | Book Matters

Cities of Lost Children

I’ve been thinking a lot about Nathan, my father’s father. I often do when pretty weather makes me regret my solitude.

Nathan was a survivor and he never let you forget it. He also didn’t like to think of himself that way.

He was born in Poland to a determined woman with a schnorrer of a husband. That Yiddish word isn’t in the kind of rotation that other ones are–schmuck, for one. But it should be because schnorrers are everywhere. They’re hustlers who aren’t good at hustling, people (men mostly) who drain your resources without profiting from them. They’re what my grandmother Basha, my grandfather’s wife, called losahs without their mezuzahs.

She was a pissah, that one. Mean, judgmental, super clever.

When my grandfather was alive we didn’t exactly get on because he was funny about women, especially big blondes. When his mother arrived in America with him and his little sister, his father already had found a better-off wife, and here was my great-grandmother not speaking English with nowhere to live, nothing in her pocket. But with two small children in tow she wasn’t about to fall on her face, not while she was young and had spring in her step. So she started going by Mary Banks and turning tricks and well–

My grandfather didn’t understand shall-we-say normal sexual boundaries.

Any sexual boundaries. Continue Reading →

Skinny and Number-Sixed: 2019 Orthorexia

Recently I was in a room of women who did not eat carbohydrates.

I am exaggerating, of course. I am sure they occasionally ate things like sprouted quinoa in bowls filled with other expensive elements meant to extend their lives by weeks or even months.

That is, if they didn’t choke on their own bile first.

Because these women were unhappy. They were rich women and they were white women and they were women my age. I kept having to remind myself they were my age, because they looked both older and younger than me. Their skin radiated a glow that mine only achieves about an hour after I work out–but really it was a sort of florescent, dangerous glow that spoke of misplaced determination. Their hair also spoke of that determination. It was very actively Not Grey, but not with the generic beige which less clever or moneyed women slap on grey hair. No, their hair was like a trip to the Grand Canyon or South Dakota’s Badlands–compelling flowing layers ranging from gold to burnt sienna–waves of sediment, not sea. Continue Reading →

The Black and Blue Swans of Spring

Lately every time I want to write you I find myself writing my book instead. I need to finish it eventually, and why not now? is my basic thinking, and it’s solid, you can’t deny that. Especially since I feel like everyone and their sister is now involved in this process–that is, ever since I revealed my broke and broken underbelly and almost all of you were awfully nice about it.

Time is money, don’t you know. And more than that: money is time. Meaning when I have free time it doesn’t feel free at all. Now I really feel that I should be working.

When it was raining all the time and we New Yorkers felt like we were on some sort of dystopian Noah’s Ark–which, I’m sorry, the jury’s not out yet on whether we aren’t–it was easy to just keep working and working. But now that spring is actually behaving like spring again, I have to devise all sorts of tricks to keep myself on the straight and narrow.

Not that my book is especially narrow. Or straight. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy