Monthly Archives: October 2020

Book Awards Finalists

The 2020 National Book Awards Finalists have been announced!

Why not take a look at the list of finalists in the various categories!

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Filed under Fiction, Lorri's Blog, Non-Fiction, Uncategorized

Book Review: Psalm 44

Psalm 44, a novel by Danilo Kis, is an example of analogies of life within the realms of pending doom and death.

The story line is extremely intense and filled with tenseness that breaks the heart of the reader, and also cements the horrific events that occurred during the Holocaust. Psalm 44 is extremely detailed with word-imagery that astounded me.

Marija, the main character is faced with the unbearable within the concentration camp, and she veers from the forces of of disbelief and denial to the realities of the situation she finds herself in, along with her baby boy, Jan. She is confronted with the issues of trying to plan and complete an escape, with her baby and with Zana, her prison mate, to the issue of reuniting with Jakob, the baby’s father. Jakob is a Jew, and a doctor in the concentration camp. He is Marija’s lifeline.

Marija is in a constant state of flashbacks, flashbacks that constantly ramble on, intermingling with the present. I think that Kis was brilliant in portraying the situations of the past leading up to the imprisonment. His use of rambling self-dialogue is consistent with the circumstances Marija finds herself in.

There is a lot that is never told within the pages, and the reader has to sort those circumstances out, through underlying and subtle prose. For one thing, “Max” is the secret name given to the leader of the resistance within the camp. At times we think we might know who the person is, and at other times, we are at a loss to understand who is the actual person. It is not necessary to know, yet, the underlying hints did have me wondering.

Danilo Kis is masterful at details, leaving no minute detail unturned. His portrayal of Marija and Zana is vivid, and the reader’s senses are filled with the horrors and atrocities of their situation. Marija’s innermost feelings are prevalent and it is as if we are reading her mindset or inside her head.

Psalm 44, is a well-detailed and book and psychological study on the effects and affects of Holocaust imprisonment. The names of some individuals have been changed for the story line, although the individuals did exist, in reality. The story is filled with metaphors for life and death, survival through strength of purpose and willpower, and filled with remarkable and brutal scenarios that take the reader’s breath away. The truths are told concisely and with precision, as the author strives, quite successfully, to write with moral and ethical input.

As an aside: Danilo Kis’ father, a Jew, was killed during the Holocaust, in a prison camp, along with other family members. Kis’ writings reflect his Jewishness and social issues regarding Jewish identity.

© Copyright Lorri M. – All Rights Reserved – No permission is given or allowed to reuse my photography, book reviews, writings, or my poetry in any form/format without my express written consent/permission.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Holocaust/Genocide, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Novels, Uncategorized, World History, World War II, Writings

Dining and Reading

My daughter, son-in-law, and my two grandies stopped by late yesterday afternoon. We chatted for a bit, and then I suggested we go out for dinner, now that the local restaurants have been operating at 50% capacity for inside dining, for about one month

We took a poll, and it wasn’t easy to decide on where to go, as the grandies had different ideas than the adults did. We settled on a Mexican restaurant, which I had not been to, but my daughter and son-in-law had eaten at.

Last night’s dinner choices were no different in the delicious-looking category, for me and my daughter, and son-in-law. When the food was brought to us, it looked colorful, festive, and mouth-watering.

The grandies weren’t thrilled with where we had dinner, so they don’t count in the equation, as far as happiness is concerned. They definitely count, as far as their presence, don’t get me wrong. I love being in their company, even if they aren’t satisfied with decisions.

My grandson had a burrito dinner, and my granddaughter had rice and beans with flour tortillas. She spread the rice and beans inside the tortillas. I didn’t take photos of their dinners.

All in all, it was nice to get out of the house to eat in a restaurant.

While I might still have your attention, I am in the midst of reading a few books. Yes, I am reading more than one book. It is normal for me. Here are the titles:

The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant

The Inventory

The Plague

Machines Like Me

Notes From An Exhibition

There you have it, dining and reading. Of the two, I must admit reading is a constant pleasure of mine.

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Copyright Lorri M.

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Housing Simplicity

Walking here and there, we often come upon the simple things in life, such as these bird houses.  Simple looking to our eyes, yet they are life-sustaining to the feathered ones. 

Birds need shelter from the elements, the triple digit temperatures during summer, the cold winds and the harsh winter temperatures.

These simple structures protect them from environmental temperatures, and the weather.

I liked the home made aspects of these particular bird houses. The simplicity of them is what caught my attention.

Just like these simple bird houses, Shabbat is a time for simplicity, as well. It brings us time to slow down our pace, reflect, and enjoy the moments.

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Filed under architecture, Artistic Work, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, nature, Photography, Writings

Windows and Reflections

Make a Window in the Word“, is a wonderful article that is posted on My Jewish Learning’s website.

“My favorite Hasidic teaching is a teaching about prayer couched in a homily on Noah’s Ark. God tells Noah to make a window in his ark. Teyva, the word for ark, means container. Teyva is also Hebrew for letter, or word, containers of meaning.  Thus, the teaching on prayer is: make a window in the word.  This means that our prayers should not be confined by the “box” of conventional liturgy. Rather, our words should be openings through which what is in us can flow out the window of the word, reverberating through our bodies and our imaginations as it expands into the universe, free in expression, free to rise up to the God on High, or sink deep into the God within us.”

I enjoy taking photographs of windows, some with reflections in them, and some without. These windows appealed to me because of how they were framed with the brick, and how the light infused shadows on the architecture.

This particular window caught my attention due to the warmth emanating from within the house, through the window. I could feel the light pulling at my heartstrings.

This window is located in one of my favorite places, The Getty Center, Los Angeles, California. I loved the reflections bouncing off the window.

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Thank you for stopping by. -Lorri

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Filed under architecture, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Photography, Uncategorized, Writings

Review: We Were Europeans

wewereeuropeans

We Were Europeans: A Personal History of a Turbulent Century, by Werner M. Loval, is book that portrays an incredible, personal, family/ancestral journey, both before World War II, and post war.

Loval came from a respected, well off, German-Jewish family, and before the war they were treated with dignity within their community. That all ended beginning on January 30,1933, when Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor of Germany. From that point forward, Loval’s story takes on dimensions that are precarious and horrendous, as he and his family fight to survive.

He and his sister eventually became part of the Kindertransport to England, while his parents eventually were able to escape to Ecuador, via Siberia and Japan, where the entire family was reunited. The family emigrated to America after the war. Loval eventually emigrated to Israel and played an intricate and highly professional role within the Diplomatic Service for the State of Israel. His religious foundations were strong, and he was involved in the Reform Jewish movement, and played a high profile role within it.

To say I am impressed with the format would be an understatement. I am in awe of We Were Europeans and the way Loval presents it to us. He infuses the pages with incredible documentation, amazing photographs, documents and maps, that enhance the pages of this compelling memoir, adding more drama to the presented depictions of the turbulence. From personal reflections and stories, the pages hold eye witness accounts to history as it happens, through Loval’s writing and presentation of supported evidence and documents.

Loval’s endeavors and arduous research has brought the reader into the depths of the Nazi turbulence, adversity and shocking horrors that overtook Europe during Hitler’s reign. First-hand accounts abound, and Loval leaves nothing to the imagination through his stark imagery. From correspondence to diaries during the haunting war years and afterwards, to diaries and letters during the Six Day War and so much more, the reader is painted vivid pictures of family inspiration during time of crisis. The post war events are just as compelling and intensely stated, as Loval involves himself in trying to get restitution for property owned by his family.

Loval and his family lived their lives to the fullest with a positive attitude, no matter the extreme harshness of their circumstances, no matter how far spread, at varied points in time, the family separation was across the global perspective. The illuminating photographs, documents and word-paintings are incredible testimonies to eras gone by, to familial bonds, to the determination and strength to persevere and survive, both during and after World War II.

We Were Europeans is a book of extreme importance and historical value for historians, for researchers, genealogists, for those who are interested in the Holocaust and World War II, and for those individuals, in general, who want to learn more about the turbulent times depicted within the pages. The intensity of the memoir is beyond imagination and comprehension. It is a powerful statement and testimony, not only to the decades, events and circumstances depicted, but to the Loval family unit. Their story is extremely inspiring, and I highly recommend We Were Europeans, by Werner M. Loval to everyone.

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Review, Copyright Lorri M.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Holocaust/Genocide, Immigrant Experience, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Non-Fiction, Uncategorized, World History, World War II, Writings