I was born and raised in Morristown, NJ. The years I spent there in a home on Lake Valley Road shaped my life and my writing, which began there, when I was 11. My childhood memoir, When I Was German, tells that story.Now, at 49, I'm still writing. I'm divorced, have two teenaged kids, and was out of work for almost 2 years in the Great Recession. I've been writing about that, too. A novel, The Seventh Round, that I will publish soon, tells that story. And another is in the works. I'm most prolific, and adept, at telling my own life story, whether in memoir, or fiction.Like Hemingway said, write what you know.As for the writers I most admire, well, Hemingway, of course. And Bukowski...I can't read any other poetry but his. Vonnegut, Cormac McCarthy, George Orwell, and Mark Twain.
When I Was Germanby Alan Wynzel
The relentless crash of falling bombs, blackened, ruined cities, and a bitter conflict between a German and a Jew. A World War II story? No. Instead it was the daily fare of a boy born in suburban New Jersey in 1964. His mother was a refugee from the wreckage of postwar Munich whose unforgiving wartime memories ran like blood into the ears of her young American son
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The relentless crash of falling bombs, blackened, ruined cities, and a bitter conflict between a German and a Jew. A World War II story? No. Instead it was the daily fare of a boy born in suburban New Jersey in 1964. His mother was a refugee from the wreckage of postwar Munich whose unforgiving wartime memories ran like blood into the ears of her young American son. His father, a New York City Jew, had little sympathy for the sufferings of Germans. They were, after all, the monsters that created Auschwitz.
The young boy struggled to survive and grow in this shell-shocked home. His mother, through love and guile, made him an ally in her war against his father. The boy escaped, for a while, into a fantasy world of comic books and war play where the Germans were the good guys and his father was the bad guy. But adolescence came, unforgiving as a rolling barrage. A lonesome night with a razor blade was the catalyst that led him to begin the hard road to maturity and freedom.
I was this boy. After my father’s death, I needed to understand my life with him and my mother, and the only way I could was to tell it as a story. When I Was German, my childhood memoir, was the result.
- Alan Wynzel
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- Age Range:
- 18 Years
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When I Was German" by Alan Wynzel is a touching look into a child’s life who was brought up by a German mother and a Jewish father. This in itself caused confusing and difficult circumstances. This coming-of-age story was written with a great deal of honesty and heart. There is a realness in the dialog and the raw emotion hurts like a knife at at times. The descriptions are crystal clear as the author takes you back in time where sacrifices are made only just to survive. This heavy memoir touched me deep down inside. I could feel the pain the engulfed this boy and his mother. At times I considered the author brave for sharing so much vulnerability. But that is what really pulled me in. The honesty and the raw emotion. Beautifully written I was absorbed into the story from the very first sentence. What happens when you are living in the past because your present is too hard but then you come to realize the past is now gone? Sometimes there is no one to blame and you just have to live with the consequences of your life. "It is a sound I will always hear. A part of me will always run across a shattered, smokey landscape, where the earth leaps to meet the sky. Shells will scatter across my path, and I will dodge, and fall, and get up again, gripping my riffle tighter. And run faster. The war plays on, and I am there, I was there, and I will always be there."
German is as human and real as it gets. And honest, brutally so, for it reveals the various tendrils of hope, angst, and pain that beget us -- the tiny betrayals and promises that stalk our lives. Told through the eyes of a small boy caught between two warring parents. And like that small boy we wonder at times should we be listening? Should we be peering through this door? Then we turn the page in want to witness more. Not entertaining so much as riveting. For here the author wields his pen like a scapel to expose the raw soul of self and others -- all the sorry, joyful, wretched mix of us. And does so bravely, in blistering, graphic detail.