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WTF Poems ~Laura Foley

Monday, June 12th, 2017

WTF is a collection of 18 poems, which are the biography of the author’s father – William T. Foley.  It is the recounting of a life of a WWII POW, doctor, husband, father, and mansion resident high up in New York City.  He is described as a healer not a killer and he enjoyed the respect of other men.

Foley’s words continue to share the sharp treatment of her mother and the contrast of how he robustly denounced his daughters:

DADDY’S GIRLS
He wanted a boy so badly,
he called four girls
a Chinese curse,
blamed our mother,
haunted us, his
unwanted daughters.
Kiss me, he’d insist…
Quickly, we learned to turn away,
duck his gaze,
but still he broke us,
two to madness,
one to meanness,
one to poetry.

I read a poem nearly everyday and I enjoy listening to poems being read aloud on the Writer’s Almanac (Garrison Keillor) on the radio.  I either like a poem or I do not and I like to analyze what I believe was the poet’s intention – just for the fun of it.

This is the third book of poems I have reviewed by Laura Foley and I have enjoyed them all.  One reason that I care for them so much is that Foley has done her homework and emotional companion work; she shares that integration with her writing.  The raw feelings are still evident and they allow the reader to touch into the poem and connect with one’s own emotions without one needing to work that emotion through for the author.  The work has been done and the reader is able to respond cleanly.

Poetic Book Tours sent me a copy of this book for review. WTF – my pleasure.

“Laura Foley is the author of five poetry collections, including Joy Street, Syringa and Night Ringing.  Her poem ‘Gratitude List’ won the Common Good Books poetry contest and was read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac.  She won the Joe Gouveia Outermost Poetry contest, judged by Marge Piercy. A palliative care volunteer in hospitals, she lives with her partner Clara Giménez and their three big dogs among the hills of Vermont.” (Cover)

Laura Foley Web
Laura Foley Facebook
Laura Foley Writer’s Almanac

Related:
Joy Street
Night Ringing
To Be of Use
Gone to Soldiers

THE ORPHAN’S TALE: A WWII Story ~Pam Jenoff

Monday, March 13th, 2017

We are partaking of a story, THE ORPHAN’S TALE, in which the author wishes the reader to ask the question –“What would I have done?” in these circumstances?  Since there are two protagonists who become friends in the course of the story this is particularly challenging.

Jenoff has been interested in this period of time since she worked at the US State Department and several interesting stories crossed her path during her work.  One story was about a trainload of small Jewish babies, which was transported across Germany during the war and what happened to these little people.   The second story was about a famous Jewish Circus in Germany and a famous German Circus from Germany who toured the war torn, occupied countryside during the war.  The German Circus Owner apparently protected and kept hidden a number of the Jewish performers so that they would survive.  A third story emerged about the Jewish women who had married German soldiers and officers and what became of them when they had to divorce.  Are you interested now?, as these stories are merged in an interesting fictional tale about the war?

Noa is a young 16-year-old Dutch girl who becomes pregnant by a German soldier and is expelled from her home.  She goes to a home for unwed mothers until the baby is born and the doctors and nurses take her baby from her as the boy is not blond haired and blue eyed.  She is told he will be adopted and she finds a job as a cleaner at the local railway station.  She steals a baby coming through on a train from a car of dozens of babies. Stumbling into the woods she is rescued by a German Circus owner at winter training.  Here she meets Astrid.

Astrid is the daughter of a Jewish family who for centuries has owned a Circus in Europe.  She has chosen to marry a young German man who is becoming an officer and she leaves her family and her trapeze artistry.   Her husband wishes to become an SS officer and thus divorces Astrid.  She cannot find her family yet returns to the winter site to help train the artists in the German Circus.  The circus is having a rough go of it financially working around the war and yet still in the spring begins its tour.  Lots of hiding and working out and scary circumstances to endure.

As these stories come together the two women create a bond as Astrid teaches Noa and Noa risks for the sake of the baby and for everyone’s future.  In such difficult circumstances, it is truly astounding the outcome and the resolution of this story.

THE ORPHAN’S TALE is not a difficult read and I think many, many readers would enjoy the story and learning about the circus trains of another time.  The capturing of the prejudice and the thinking of the time by Germans and by the Frenchmen of the countryside played well with the problems of being Jewish and of being in the Circus.  They were not gypsies, they were talented, well trained artists.

Another opportunity to look at history within a story and I believe High School students would also enjoy this read and seeing what it takes to “save” people for the future and how to change minds.   TLC Book Tours http://tlcbooktours.com/2016/12/pam-jenoff-author-of-the-orphans-tale-on-tour-februarymarch-2017/ sent me this e-book for review and I can highly recommend THE ORPHAN’S TALE.

Pam Jenoff:

“Pam Jenoff is the author of several novels, including the international bestseller The Kommandant’s Girl, which also earned her a Quill Award nomination. Pam lives with her husband and three children near Philadelphia where, in addition to writing, she teaches law school.” (From TLC Books)

Pam Jenoff Facebook
Pam Jenoff Web
Pam Jenoff Twitter

“Jenoff expertly performs a pirouetting tale worthy of a standing ovation. A circus of hidden Jews, a powerful friendship, The Orphan’s Tale proves that the human spirit defies hate, fear, and gravity with a triumphant ta-da!” —Sarah McCoy, New York Times bestselling author of The Mapmaker’s Children”

Related:
Adolfo Kaminsky A Forgers Life
The Mapmaker’s Children
Hannah Coulter

POINT OF NO RETURN: A WWII Novel ~Martha Gellhorn

Monday, February 27th, 2017

THE POINT OF NO RETURN had an amazing history when first printed and then in 1989 it was retitled from THE WINE OF ASTONISHMENT to THE POINT OF NO RETURN and Gellhorn wrote a new forward and re-released the novel.  It has been a best seller for years.

“Originally published in 1948, this powerful novel follows a U.S. Army infantry battalion in Europe through the last months of the Second World War—through the Battle of the Bulge, the Allied sweep across Germany, and the discovery of the Nazi death camps. Jacob Levy, a young soldier from St. Louis, has never given much thought to politics, world affairs, or his own Jewish heritage, but after the liberation of Dachau, he confronts the horror of the Holocaust and takes his own violent revenge. Jolted into a new understanding of humanity’s connectedness, he comes to terms with his own Jewish identity and grapples with questions of individual moral responsibility that are still contemporary fifty years later.

“In her afterword, Martha Gellhorn traces the roots of the novel in her own experience as a war correspondent who first heard of the Nazi concentration camps during the Spanish Civil War and herself got to Dachau a week after American soldiers discovered the camp at the end of a village street.” (From Amazon’s page)

Ms. Shull  sent me an e-copy of this book for review.  It took me quite a while to squeeze it onto the schedule and it was well worth the read.  I was right there in the rain and snow, cold to the bone as the American troops worked through the woods in the Battle of the Bulge and took their rest in Luxemburg City.    Powerful read.  Emotional read.

“Martha Gellhorn was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1908.  She dropped out of Bryn Mawr to pursue a career in journalism.  Gellhorn spent time living in Paris; documented the Great Depression for the Federal emergency Relief Administration; traveled with her future husband, Ernest Hemingway, to Spain to cover the Spanish Civil War; and journeyed to Western Europe to cover World War II.  Her reporting career was distinguished and lengthy, as she also covered the Vietnam War and conflicts in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Panama. An author of both fiction and nonfiction her works include the memoir TRAVELS WITH MYSELF AND ANOTHER and the novels POINT OF NO RETURN, WHAT MAD PURSUIT, and THE TROUBLE I’VE SEEN. She died in 1998.” (Book Cover)

Related:
Gone To Soldiers
Adolfo Kaminsky: A Forger’s Life
A Constellation Of Vital Phenomena

A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING: A Novel ~ Ruth Ozeki

Monday, December 5th, 2016

A nearly perfect read, which came into my awareness with nearly perfect timing, and gave me a nearly perfect excuse to do nothing else except read; Exquisite.

The story begins with a 16-year-old girls voice saying:  “Hi! My name is Nao, and I am a time being. Do you know what a time being is?  Well, if you give me a moment, I will tell you.” This child’s story is compelling and sometimes funny and sometimes very difficult.  Nao is trying to figure out life and how to live it after having been living the “good” life in California and now whisked back to Japan in the dot com bust.   Her father is extremely depressed and it is affecting the whole family.  The guilt, the anger, the shame is difficult to understand and yet it draws one into the story.  The bullying and shaming that Nao must endure is horrific.

There is a second story that takes place on an island on the British Columbia Coastline.   Ruth, a writer, is wandering the beach and finds a “Hello Kitty” lunch pail in a heavy plastic shipping bag.  When opened the lunch pail contains a journal and a Kamikaze pilot’s letters and watch, it appears to be debris from the Japanese tsunami of 2011.  It is Nao’s journal and her story and history.

The story is also about the Zen experience of life as shared by Nao’s lessons from her 104 year old great grandmother, who is the mother of the Kamikaze pilot.  How can there be humor in such a story?  There is a great deal of humor in the story.  The characters on the island truly come alive and participate in the story.  Ruth and her partner Oliver are strong characters in their own right.  Fact and fiction twirl about as compliments to understanding the deeper issues facing each person-culture.  Is Nao still alive and well?  How could this person be tracked down and could they all be on the Internet?

My book group chose this book and so it is apart of my own library.  The other members of the group discovered that there was a reader’s play of this story being performed in the city and they bought tickets and went to the performance.  We cannot stop talking about this book and we all agree that there is perfection in the writing of this story, which makes it a huge recommendation and a must read for so many people I know.    I just had to share it with you

Bursting with symbolism, a story for our time – full of topics to discuss; breaks the barriers and expectations of traditional thinking.

Ruth Ozeki Webpage
Ruth Ozeki Twitter

From the website:

“Ruth Ozeki is a novelist, filmmaker, and Zen Buddhist priest.Her first two novels, My Year of Meats(1998) and All Over Creation (2003), have been translated into 11 languages and published in 14 countries. Her most recent work, A Tale for the Time-Being (2013), won the LA Times Book Prize, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critic’s Circle Award, and has been published in over thirty countries. Ruth’s documentary and dramatic independent films, including Halving the Bones, have been shown on PBS, at the Sundance Film Festival, and at colleges and universities across the country. A longtime Buddhist practitioner, Ruth was ordained in 2010 and is affiliated with the Brooklyn Zen Center and the Everyday Zen Foundation. She lives in British Columbia and New York City, and is currently the Elizabeth Drew Professor of Creative Writing at Smith College.”

“Tantalizing”– The Washington Post
“A spellbinding tale.” – O, The Oprah Magazine
“Fractures Clichés” – ELLE
“Delightful.” – The New York Times Book Review
“Terrific”– The Seattle Times

Related:
Breakfast with Buddha
Lunch with Buddha
A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Sand