Archive for June, 2011

How we see the stories of our lives, as my work researching and writing Needle in the Bone keeps showing me, have everything to do with what capacity we have to make good with the materials life gives us. I recently was interviewed by Katharine Hansen’s excellent blog, A Storied Career, on the transformative power of our stories, making a living through the language arts, and how Transformative Language Arts has helped people create careers doing work they love and helping their communities find and share stories. Check the interview out, and read other interviews, articles and amazing insights on this site.

Kathy Hansen’s Blog to explore traditional and postmodern forms/uses of storytelling.

My good friend, writer Diane Silver, is exploring goodness. Through her blog, In Search of Goodness, she’s writing everyday — starting June 1 — on various ways to know, question and investigate what’s good and what’s not. She interviewed me recently, and because I discussed this book as well as some thoughts I have on goodness and its opposite in relation to the Holocaust, I share the link here. Her interview with me is particularly timely because throughout the writing of this book I’ve been questioning this very topic as well as how limited notions of goodness can certainly support acts of pure evil, even and especially when those with such limited notions — such as how we can improve society by creating the most opportunity for those of a certain religion, certain ethnicity, certain class, certain genetic make-up — don’t look at the logical extremes of their notions.

Throughout Needle in the Bone, I ask myself how to reconcile my ideas of goodness with the off-the-charts violence and terror of the Holocaust. Being an Anne-Frank-kind-of-gal (yes, I do believe that all people are good at heart), you can imagine that it’s tricky to find such reconciliation, maybe even impossible. Yet anyone alive has to be concerned with the essential question: how do I live? And behind that question lurks our notions, believes, experiences with, socialization toward what’s good and what’s bad. What do you think?

Pictures: Sumac, a good thing; Diane Silver, a good person.

In my journey through Holocaust movies I’ve seen before and am now seeing again, or that I’m seeing for the first time, I found three that really landed in me as particularly unique in breaking through myths of the Holocaust.

Defiance, the true story of the Jewish Bielski brothers of Belarus who ended up hiding hundreds of Jews in the forests from the Nazis for years. By the time the war ended, the group in hiding grew to over 1,200 who has established their own client, school and businesses. The film is riveting in showing how the Bielskis were drawn into the situation and how the community grew.

I also recommend is Fateless, the story of a Hungarian Jewish boy, just 14 when he was taken to the camps, and his journey through death back to at least some kind of life again, although one of startlingly clear sight. This film captures the ambiguity of the situation, even showing some of the odd moments of tiny joy. I’ve heard that the book the movie is based upon is even better, and I hope to read it soon. (Odd trivia: Daniel Craig, a la James Bond, is in both Defiance and Fateless, playing a Jewish fighter in each.)

Finally, having seen The Pianist twice in the last year and several times before that, I’m still struck by how much this movie mirrors all the research I’ve been doing on the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the Warsaw Uprising and the almost complete destruction of Warsaw by the German army. Of course, Adrien Brody’s performance is also spectacular and truly Oscar worthy.