Isaac Bashevis Singer on A Rabbi’s Crisis

In Isaac Bashevis Singer‘s “I Place My Reliance on No Man” (collected with other short stories in Short Friday) Rabbi Jonathan Danziger goes to pray in his synagogue one Monday morning. As he prays, he encounters a crisis: When the rabbi came to the words, ‘I place my reliance on no man,’ he stopped. The words stuck inContinue reading “Isaac Bashevis Singer on A Rabbi’s Crisis”

No Atheists in Foxholes, My Ass

Here is vignette #7 from Ernest Hemingway‘s In Our Time: While the bombardment was knocking the trench to pieces at Fossalta, he lay very flat and sweated and prayed oh jesus christ get me out of here. Dear jesus please get me out . Christ please please please christ. If you’ll only keep me from gettingContinue reading “No Atheists in Foxholes, My Ass”

Concert at the Corner

The boy with the violin case came around the corner. On time, as always.  Head bowed, feet dragging on the sidewalk, the case drooping by his side, as always. He approached A__’s gang, scattered on the sidewalk, oblivious to their presence. Till A__ spoke. ‘Hey!’ The boy looked up, alarm running through his body quicklyContinue reading “Concert at the Corner”

Professorship and ‘The Perennial Taker of Courses’

In ‘In Greenwich, There Are Many Gravelled Walks‘ Hortense Calisher writes, Robert was a perennial taker of courses–one of those non-matriculated students of indefinable age and income, some of whom pursued, with monkish zeal and no apparent regard for time, this or that freakishly peripheral research project of their own conception, and others of whom, like Robert,Continue reading “Professorship and ‘The Perennial Taker of Courses’”

O. Henry on the South (Mainly Nashville)

I’ve only read a couple of short stories by O. Henry but have long owned an omnibus collection of them (presented to me on my twenty-eighth birthday). I’ve finally taken a gander at it, and stumbled on his classic A Municipal Report. Henry was a Southerner transplanted to the East Coast, so I find the narrator’s voice–aContinue reading “O. Henry on the South (Mainly Nashville)”

‘Write As If Your Parents Were Dead’

Phillip Roth is said to have tendered the following advice–on the art of writing–to Ian McEwan : ‘Write as if your parents were dead.’ By this, I take it that Roth meant for McEwan to write with a distinctive  fearlessness, one not courting parental approval, not apprehensive of parental disapproval of writerly indulgence, of libertiesContinue reading “‘Write As If Your Parents Were Dead’”

Baltimore Dispatches: The Cask of Amontillado and the Terrors of Immurement

This Columbus Day weekend, I am ensconced in Baltimore, which has meant that, among other things, my thoughts turned to Edgar Allan Poe, the city’s most distinguished literary son, one of a select group of writers whose work I was first exposed to via comic books, and someone who, to put it mildly, gave meContinue reading “Baltimore Dispatches: The Cask of Amontillado and the Terrors of Immurement”