Holocaust Girls: History, Memory, and Other Obsessions

Holocaust Girls: History, Memory, and Other Obsessions

by S. L. Wisenberg
     
 

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This bracing and vivid collection of essays gives voice to what some American Jews feel but don't express about their uneasy state of mind. These essays creatively and sometimes audaciously address the question of what it means to be an American Jew trying to negotiate overlapping identities—woman, writer, and urban intellectual in search of a moral way. S.L… See more details below

Overview


This bracing and vivid collection of essays gives voice to what some American Jews feel but don't express about their uneasy state of mind. These essays creatively and sometimes audaciously address the question of what it means to be an American Jew trying to negotiate overlapping identities—woman, writer, and urban intellectual in search of a moral way. S.L. Wisenberg’s deeply ambivalent connection with the Holocaust reappears throughout these essays as she struggles to find a way to live with history without being swallowed by it.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Fugitive essays on the experience of being a Jewish woman in the post-Holocaust world, set in Theresienstadt, Houston, and points between. Wisenberg (The Sweetheart Is In, 2001) has a good eye for offbeat detail, evoking loud German tourists smoking cigarettes at the entrance to the Jewish cemetery in Prague, who would somehow "know I was Jewish, despite my 1972 nose job," cataloguing the many Yiddish words for "vagina," deploring the strange irony of the ice-cream stands at the Terez'n ghetto, now a tourist attraction for curious Americans. In these bite-size pieces, most published in venues such as Tikkun and Chicago Reader, Wisenberg explores two large subjects: the meaning of the Holocaust, and herself. Though she comes close to trivializing the former at points, she is an entertaining, self-aware narrator. A high point comes when Wisenberg considers the matter of Monica Lewinsky, reading whose biography, she writes, "is like taking a five-hour call from your most annoying friend when you were fourteen years old, the one with constant boy problems." In a weird but inspired turn, Wisenberg compares Lewinsky to the Holocaust martyr Hannah Senesh, each representing the different paths that "privileged young Jewish women in the developed world can take, have open to them, make open to themselves." (Lewinsky, of course, opened herself to such comparisons when she complained that her post-Clinton affair life "reminded me of The Diary of Anne Frank.") Other good moments come when Wisenberg writes of being unable to cope outside the city, despite its pickpockets and street crazies; open space scares her, she confesses, and "Franz Kafka is less foreign to me than Wendell Berry." Against suchstrengths, the occasional burst of workshoppy prose ("In Prague I thought, Do I fly during sex? Does she fly higher than I do? Does he?") is jarring, and one wishes that Wisenberg had exercised a sharper pencil in editing. Still, equal parts Fran Lebowitz and Leon Wieseltier: smart and satisfying.
Booklist

"With her lucid style and power of observation, Wisenberg's insightful essays are gems not to be missed."—Booklist

— George Cohen

(The Jewish Daily) Forward

“Anyone who gets meditative around the High Holy Days, wondering exactly what it means to be a contemporary American and a Jew, will find a caring companion in Chicago-based journalist S.L. Wisenberg. . . .The strength of this collection is not so much in the answers Wisenberg provides, but in the questions she raises.”—Forward

— Amy Waldman

Booklist - George Cohen
"With her lucid style and power of observation, Wisenberg's insightful essays are gems not to be missed."—Booklist
(The Jewish Daily) Forward - Amy Waldman
“Anyone who gets meditative around the High Holy Days, wondering exactly what it means to be a contemporary American and a Jew, will find a caring companion in Chicago-based journalist S.L. Wisenberg. . . .The strength of this collection is not so much in the answers Wisenberg provides, but in the questions she raises.”—Forward

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803298668
Publisher:
University of Nebraska Press
Publication date:
12/28/2006
Pages:
142
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.36(d)

Meet the Author


S.L. Wisenberg is the author of The Sweetheart Is In, a collection of short stories that was named a book of the year by the Chicago Tribune. She is co-director of the Masters in Creative Writing program at Northwestern University and also teaches at the University of Chicago Graham School of General Studies. She is the creative nonfiction editor of Another Chicago Magazine.

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