Hailed for its searing emotional insights, and for the astonishing originality with which it weaves together personal history, cultural essay, and readings of classical texts by Sophocles, Ovid, Euripides, and Sappho, The Elusive Embrace is a profound exploration of the mysteries of identity. It is also a meditation in which the author uses his own divided life to investigate the "rich conflictedness of things," the double lives all of us lead. Daniel Mendelsohn recalls the deceptively quiet suburb where he grew up, torn between his mathematician father's pursuit of scientific truth and the exquisite lies spun by his Orthodox Jewish grandfather; the streets of manhattan's newest "gay ghetto," where "desire for love" competes with "love of desire;" and the quiet moonlit house where a close friend's small son teaches him the meaning of fatherhood. And, finally, in a neglected Jewish cemetery, the author uncovers a family secret that reveals the universal need for storytelling, for inventing myths of the self. The book that Hilton Als calls "equal to Whitman's 'Song of Myself,'" The Elusive Embrace marks a dazzling literary debut. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Healing the Wounded Child The wounded child cannot be kept separate from you. If s/he is in fear, you need to love the one in fear. You must be willing to feel her pain. This is a sacred journey through fear to love. You must learn to approach the child, not as a judgmental parent, but as a loving one. For only love releases the pain. Only love gently brings the darkness into the light. The process of recovery does not end until there is no one left to blame or shame, including yourself. It does not end until you can see the light behind your shadow. It is time now to take the little child into your arms and rock her and speak to her softly the words of love s/he needs to hear. Do not be afraid of her anger or her pain but remember that all s/he wants is love. and that is the only gift you can offer her.
"Somehow I woke up one day and found myself in bed with a stranger." Meant literally or figuratively, this statement describes one of the best-known plots in world mythology and popular storytelling. In a tour that runs from Shakespeare to Hollywood and from Abraham Lincoln to Casanova, the erudite and irrepressible Wendy Doniger shows us the variety, danger, and allure of the "bedtrick," or what it means to wake up with a stranger. The Bedtrick brings together hundreds of stories from all over the world, from the earliest recorded Hindu and Hebrew texts to the latest item in the Weekly World News, to show the hilariously convoluted sexual scrapes that people manage to get themselves into and out of. Here you will find wives who accidentally commit adultery with their own husbands. You will read Lincoln's truly terrible poem about a bedtrick. You will learn that in Hong Kong the film The Crying Game was retitled Oh No! My Girlfriend Has a Penis. And that President Clinton was not the first man to be identified by an idiosyncratic organ. At the bottom of these wonderful stories, ancient myths, and historical anecdotes lie the dynamics of sex and gender, power and identity. Why can't people tell the difference in the dark? Can love always tell the difference between one lover and another? And what kind of truth does sex tell? Funny, sexy, and engaging, The Bedtrick is a masterful work of energetic storytelling and dazzling scholarship. Give it to your spouse and your lover.
This book traces the interpretive career of Leviticus 18:3, a verse that forbids Israel from imitating its neighbors. Beth A. Berkowitz shows that ancient, medieval and modern exegesis of this verse provides an essential backdrop for today's conversations about Jewish assimilation and minority identity more generally. The story of Jewishness that this book tells may surprise many modern readers for whom religious identity revolves around ritual and worship. In Leviticus 18:3's story of Jewishness, sexual practice and cultural habits instead loom large. The readings in this book are on a micro-level, but their implications are far-ranging: Berkowitz transforms both our notion of Bible-reading and our sense of how Jews have defined Jewishness.
Why hate Abercrombie? In a world rife with human cruelty and oppression, why waste your scorn on a popular clothing retailer? The rationale, Dwight A. McBride argues, lies in “the banality of evil,” or the quiet way discriminatory hiring practices and racist ad campaigns seep into and reflect malevolent undertones in American culture. McBride maintains that issues of race and sexuality are often subtle and always messy, and his compelling new book does not offer simple answers. Instead, in a collection of essays about such diverse topics as biased marketing strategies, black gay media representations, the role of African American studies in higher education, gay personal ads, and pornography, he offers the evolving insights of one black gay male scholar. As adept at analyzing affirmative action as dissecting Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, McBride employs a range of academic, journalistic, and autobiographical writing styles. Each chapter speaks a version of the truth about black gay male life, African American studies, and the black community. Original and astute, Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch is a powerful vision of a rapidly changing social landscape.
Many of us belong to communities that have been scarred by terrible calamities. And many of us come from families that have suffered grievous losses. How we reflect on these legacies of loss and the ways they inform each other are the questions Laura Levitt takes up in this provocative and passionate book. An American Jew whose family was not directly affected by the Holocaust, Levitt grapples with the challenges of contending with ordinary Jewish loss. She suggests that although the memory of the Holocaust may seem to overshadow all other kinds of loss for American Jews, it can also open up possibilities for engaging these more personal and everyday legacies. Weaving in discussions of her own family stories and writing in a manner that is both deeply personal and erudite, Levitt shows what happens when public and private losses are seen next to each other, and what happens when difficult works of art or commemoration, such as museum exhibits or films, are seen alongside ordinary family stories about more intimate losses. In so doing she illuminates how through these “ordinary stories” we may create an alternative model for confronting Holocaust memory in Jewish culture.
Since the Turks first shattered the glory of the French crusaders in 1396, the Ottoman Empire has exerted a long, strong pull on Western minds. For six hundred years, the Empire swelled and declined. Islamic, martial, civilized, and tolerant, in three centuries it advanced from the dusty foothills of Anatolia to rule on the Danube and the Nile; at the Empire's height, Indian rajahs and the kings of France beseeched its aid. For the next three hundred years the Empire seemed ready to collapse, a prodigy of survival and decay. Early in the twentieth century it fell. In this dazzling evocation of its power, Jason Goodwin explores how the Ottomans rose and how, against all odds, they lingered on. In the process he unfolds a sequence of mysteries, triumphs, treasures, and terrors unknown to most American readers. This was a place where pillows spoke and birds were fed in the snow; where time itself unfolded at a different rate and clocks were banned; where sounds were different, and even the hyacinths too strong to sniff. Dramatic and passionate, comic and gruesome, Lords of the Horizons is a history, a travel book, and a vision of a lost world all in one.
For more than two hundred years, Jews have played important roles in the development of American literature. The Cambridge Companion to Jewish American Literature addresses a wide array of themes and approaches to the distinct yet multifaceted body of Jewish American literature. Essays examine writing from the 1700s to major contemporary writers such as Saul Bellow and Philip Roth. Topics covered include literary history, immigration and acculturation, Yiddish and Hebrew literature, popular culture, women writers, literary theory and poetics, multilingualism, the Holocaust, and contemporary fiction. This collection of specially commissioned essays by leading figures discusses Jewish American literature in relation to ethnicity, religion, politics, race, gender, ideology, history, and ethics, and places it in the contexts of both Jewish and American writing. With its chronology and guides to further reading, this volume will prove valuable to scholars and students alike.
Through a profound personal encounter, Trebbe Johnson discovered that longing is often linked to something greater, and that following that longing, which she calls the Beloved, can lead to a more compassionate -- and passionate -- engagement with the world. Steeped in Western and Eastern myth, romantic imagery, and Jungian psychology, Johnson uses her own story to examine the shared human experience and to help readers understand the underlying meaning and purpose behind their own life choices. Though a personal story, the book weaves a modern myth of its own, about the different guises (and occasional disguises) of the Beloved and the obstacles, mirages, enchantments, and treasures encountered on the search for its elusive embrace. With warmth and wisdom, Johnson shows how to overcome those obstacles, embrace the Beloved, and find new meaning at work, in relationships, and in life.