Stealing Historyby Gerald Stern
In what could be boldly called a new genre, Gerald Stern reflects with wit, pathos, rage, and tenderness, on 85 years of life. In 70 short, intermingling pieces that constitute a kind of diary of a mind, Stern moves nimbly between the past and the present, the personal and the philosophical. Creating the immediacy of dailiness, he writes with entertaining engagement… See more details below
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In what could be boldly called a new genre, Gerald Stern reflects with wit, pathos, rage, and tenderness, on 85 years of life. In 70 short, intermingling pieces that constitute a kind of diary of a mind, Stern moves nimbly between the past and the present, the personal and the philosophical. Creating the immediacy of dailiness, he writes with entertaining engagement about what he’s reading, be it Spinoza, Maimonides, John Cage, Etheridge Knight, James Schuyler, or Lucille Clifton, and then he seamlessly turns to memories of his student years in Europe on the GI Bill, or his political and social action. Unexpected anecdotes abound. He hilariously recounts the evening Bill Murray bit his arm and tells about singing together with Paul McCartney. Interwoven with his formidable recollections are passionate discussions of lifelong obsessions: his conflicted identity as a secular Jew opposed to Israel’s Palestinian policy; the idea of neighbors in various forms from the women of Gee’s Bend who together made beautiful quilts to the inhabitants of Jedwabne, who on a single day in 1941 slaughtered 300 Jews; and issues of justice.
- Trinity University Press
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- Barnes & Noble
- NOOK Book
- File size:
- 3 MB
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Stern takes us through his poetic life in Stealing History, a book filled to bursting with wisdom and wit. Unlike your usual book of essays, the contents of the book intermingle with one another, referencing and remembering each bit that’s come before. The result is a potent exposition on matters important to Stern: his identity as a Jew with controversial political beliefs, his thoughts on what it means to be a neighbor, and his stance on matters concerning justice. Coming from this unique background, he presents material in an equally intriguing manner: “I am lying now on my back in my dark bedroom and my left hand is caressing the smooth, cool cover of the book that’s been there for several years, John Cage’s X, a collection of prose and poetry, brought out by Wesleyan in 1983. It’s full of chance writing, but not much silence, since you can’t have that in either prose or poetry, at least as you can in music. Even a book of empty pages is not the same as absent musical notes,” (p. 253). In every paragraph Stern’s writing reflects an uncommon mastery, from his musings of childhood to his violent memories of pogroms and the affect such events had on his way of thinking. Fans of poetry and personal essays alike will be able to take a great deal away from Stealing History.