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Notes from a Crusty Seeker

Be the One!

The Escape Artist : The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World (Harper Collins, October 2022) by Jonathan Freeland

From out of nowhere" a sound happens. "Someone sings a pitch" and "once someone starts, everyone wants to be a part of it." The sound of the national anthem resonates and "It's completely organic."

 

"We are not a nation of soloists, but a chorus of shared values that when joined together resonate like nothing the world has ever heard," says Steve Hartman in his conclusion to this feel-good story about students who "spontaneously" erupt in an elegiac rendition of the national anthem . . . and become part of a tradition of young people who do this every year in this Kentucky hotel.

 

 

 

 

 

I would agree, with a caveat: somebody starts the hum. One person decides to be first, and then others join.

 

I just finished reading an astounding, devastating, inspiring story of the first Jew to escape Auschwitz—a teenager who was driven to action in order to spread the truth of the industrial murder of babies, old people, men, women and children who had the misfortune by their ethnic heritage to be deemed less than human and a scourge to Aryan society.

 

The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World (Harper Collins, October 2022) by Jonathan Freeland reads like a page-turning novel, at times so brutal that you feel it viscerally. Its subject, Walter Rosenberg, was sixteen years old when he was captured and deported, and his unlikely survival in Auschwitz was due to two qualities: his conviction that if people knew that the Nazis' lies about this being a mere resettlement of people were a public relations act to conceal mass murder, torture, and cruelty as a sport, they would do something; and his paranoid personality that kept him skeptical and therefore safe from rookie mistakes.

 

Rosenberg and another inmate, Fred Wetzler, do the impossible by careful observation and calculation: where others see only that the Nazis are an efficient machine guarding the prison on two concentric fronts, Rosenberg and Wetzler, students of observation, realize that it is the Nazis' predictable actions that produce a loophole for escape. (Read the book to learn what this is.) Rosenberg learns from others in the camp the basics of what not to do. (Again, read the book.) He is meticulous and patient, but also desperate because he is privy to the Nazi plan to shortly deport hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews. Rosenberg and Wetzler want to get the news to them so they will rise up en masse and refuse to board the deportation trains.

 

They escape. They report to resistance forces who write a report. Walter Rosenberg changes his name on forged papers to Rudolf Vrba (he will keep that name for the rest of his life. Wetzler briefly changes his name, then resumes being Wetzler), and the two young men wait for the world to rally.

 

At every juncture, their copious written report met lethargy, procrastination, convenient incredulity allowing inaction, or ineffective action from everyone from Winston Churchill to Franklin Roosevelt to the pope. The critical information, which Walter and Fred had intended to save the soon-to-be murdered Hungarian Jews was not only kept from them because of secret, futile negotiations between Hungarian Jewish leadership and the Nazis, but they were delivered willful misinformation—bogus "Everything's fine" postcards written by their relatives in Auschwitz at the direction of their murderers moments before they were shoved into the gas chambers.

 

Does any of this resonate with misinformation campaigns today? With the difficulty of battling big lies with truth? With worldwide campaigns to create inaction or self-sabotaging actions among people who accept carefully crafted public relations, or, worse, only care about protecting their own positions?

 

Rudi Vrba, Wetzler, and two other Jews who escaped after the first two, were more frustrated than you probably are at this point of my recount, so what did they do? They decided to disseminate their report themselves.

 

Author Jonathan Freedland wrote this story because Vrba's life deserves the same attention as other Holocaust celebrities. Vrba probably had zero interest in this kind of notoriety cum power. His mission was always to save lives. He rallied his strengths for this mission: a keen ability to observe and will everything he saw to memory. He was not a genius, but by sheer conviction and dedication, he developed a kind of savant memory for details. He believed change was worth any risk.

 

And change did come—much slower than Vrba and Wetzler wanted—and it came because the Vrba-Wetzler Report finally reached a few people who would act. And pressure began to build against the Hungarian deportations. And a Hungarian government who really didn't mind the deportations, acceded to the pressure. And gradually more people with none of the ethics and mission of Vrba and Wetzler began to act. They acted as a herd. And two young Slovakian Jews saved 200,000 Hungarians who would never know about them.

 

We are herd animals and apparently most of us are not directed by an inner compass. Nevertheless, Vrba's story shows that a few people with relentless will to do the right thing—and the requisite craziness to carry out the mission—can choose to be the one to start a herd action, and by this choice, actually change the direction of a world herd.

 

Will you commit to "being the one"—the one to say "That's wrong" out loud when you see something cruel; the one to start the applause when something worthy of praise happens; the one to run to help or hug when you witness the need; the one to sound the first pitch and get the whole damned choir singing?

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A Short Film for Dog Lovers

Happy New Year!

 

Thirty-one years ago, with the help of editor/filmmaker Steve Clarendon,  my dog, Daisy, and my actor friend Shelley Wyant, I made this little film short that I had written to the score of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons. Long before digital technology, adding music from an LP became too cumbersome to attempt, so the VHS of the rough cut languished in a dusty bag on my top book shelf.

 

Recently, I had the video digitized and finally finished it with the help of Vivaldi, royalty free courtesy of John Harrison with the Wichita State University Chamber Players.

 

(Please excuse the frame counter; there is no way to eliminate it easily and cheaply.)

 

I hope you enjoy this love letter to New York City, seasons in Central Park, human and canine oddities, and angels in dog suits everywhere.

 

 

 

Vivaldi recording, by John Harrison with the Wichita State University Chamber Players, is royalty free.

License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

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Favorite Well-Written Books for 2022

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Oh Reader—Oh, What a Gift!

I'm a voracious reader as well as a writer, and therefore a lot of my journalism these days focusses on books.

 

I knew nothing about Oh Reader magazine except that they might be open to articles I'm interested in writing. And I was thrilled when editor Gemma Peckham accepted a piece about finding hilarious books by female writers. She has published it, under the title "Laughing with the Ladies," in the December 2022 (issue 010) Oh Reader and, oh boy, am I surprised and grateful for the discovery of this magazine.

 

I just finished reading it cover to cover, and this is a reader's heaven.

 

Of course, I like my own piece, detailing the difficulty of finding pee-in-your-pants funny books by women, why that has been a problem, and a list with short descriptions of the 13 books that I've discovered since I began my quest eight years ago.

 

But there's more.

 

My favorite stories: how being raised Hindu affected the writer's (Thulasi Seshan) reverence for physical books; the story of a neighbor's book collection and how reading it after her demise affected the author (Rebecca Duras); a fittingly short essay by a writer (Steven Allison) who couldn't read due to his ADHD about the unlikely way he learned he can read whole books; and a deeply moving contemplation by a bookseller (Laura Bridgewater) about what she learned was the true gift of the bookseller-customer interaction.

 

Not only are the articles wonderful, but the art, layout, and high-quality paper make this a magazine to save.

 

The December issue will be on magazine stands on December 8, 2022, and you can learn more at Oh Reader.com.

@betsyjuliarobinson A great magazine for readers #booktok #reading #books @ohreadermag #magazintiktok #readers ♬ original sound - Betsy Robinson
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Common Grammatical Errors that Make it into Published Work

From Remarkably Bright Creatures, a charming novel by Shelby Van Pelt

I'm an editor as well as a writer, and recently I couldn't resist correcting an error in a library book (see illus). When I posted about it on Facebook, I was overwhelmed by comments with people's grammar peccadilloes. People who read a lot get annoyed about errors in published material. Their ire made me retire my own. However it also brought up—not annoyance, because I get paid to fix mistakes—a screaming head full of chronic errors, which resulted in an article, just published by a site called Writing Bad.

 

They cut two of the most annoying errors, so I'm pasting them here—as a teaser … and for closure:

 

WELL/GOOD

Using "good" instead of "well" is commonly misspoken, but when this gaff makes it into print and is not part of a quotation, it's just annoying.

 

Wrong: He was offered a good-paying job.

 

"Well" is an adverb, meaning it describes the verb—how you do the verb.

 

Correct:

He was offered a well-paying job, and boy, did he feel good about that.

  Read More 

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Vote Like Democracy Depends on It . . . Because It Does

I sought this novel out after reading Kathrine Kressmann Taylor’s perfect goose-bump of a short story "Address Unknown." That story, originally published in 1938, received much-deserved notoriety in its time and was later republished as a stand-alone paperback with an afterword by the author's son giving the back story of this riveting epistolary exchange between two Germans, one a Jew and one a budding Nazi, at a pivotal time in history. It is an international best-seller.

 

I'm guessing Kressman Taylor's son, Charles Douglas Taylor (who contributed back-of-book comprehensive and illuminating histories about and by the real man* on whom Day of No Return was based), was motivated by the short story's success to self-publish (through Xlibris) this 2016 American edition of this out-of-print novel that has only four reviews on Goodreads. I would like to remedy its unmerited obscurity.

 

Day of No Return, first published in 1942, is equally necessary and horrifying. And it should be read by Americans who love democracy and are frazzled by our current history. If you enjoy reading history, this novel may be for you. I'll explain:

 

I was not brought up with a religion and one of the good parts of that is that I have no sense of any religion being superior and am comfortable with a live and let live attitude. But this background has also made me obtuse to the dynamism of religious fervor and power and how it can be used to take over and demolish democracy. For all its flaws, our Constitution and the founders were absolutely brilliant in their proclamation of a republic with a separation of church and state—a separation which insidious forces are eroding as I type.

 

The similarities of the trajectory of Germany into a Nazi regime and what's going on now in the USA are unmistakable. But without the knowledge of the historical precedent, we Americans are missing the chance to do a course correction. Read More 

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10 Books to Help You Cope with Cultural Agony—The Healing Power of Fiction

Maybe the right stories can help heal us in a void.

Yesterday my book club discussed Jason Mott's National Book Award-winning hilarious, heart-breaking novel Hell of a Book, a story of an unnamed Black man's life in a world where he is never seen as who he knows himself to be. What was most meaningful for me was that by the end of our discussion, this white not-particularly-contemplative group of older women settled into a profoundly personal conversation about self-acceptance.

 

All fiction, when done well, forces you to walk in another person's shoes … or into deeper levels of the shoes you are already wearing. And because of this, fiction can take the reader on an emotional journey to healing or coping with pain that may seem intractable.

 

 

What the following ten stories have in common is accepting realities that are personal as well as historical. Racism, genocide, spousal abuse, and more. How do you accept these things? These books leave little alternative. And by dealing with what's true, there is a form of healing, or at least a path to coping. The human journey is just that—no matter what your race, gender, or status—accepting truth on all levels.

 

But what is truth in these days of divided definitions?

 

When I say "truth," I am referring to what Ernest Hemingway meant when he advised writers to ". . . write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know." To me this means truth that comes from one's core. One's Essence—however you define that. It isn't about politics or disinformation vs. fact.

 

When a writer's Essence births a true story, it is told through true characters, and no matter how fantastical or removed from your life they may be, almost everybody can identify in some way and have a personal experience. That personal experience can sometimes be love or a refusal to love, which can manifest as an emotional aversion. If we hate, rather than blame the story, we can follow the aversion down to its root and perhaps learn something about ourselves—learn what we are refusing to accept. And if we can love the truth about ourselves, loving all the other stuff gets easier. Read More 

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Compassionate Death

It's 8:12 a.m. As I type, my body clock is confused but slowly readjusting to not lurching out of bed at 5:30 a.m. with my almost-16-year-old dog who would need to pee because she was getting daily IV saline drips for old-age kidney disease, to not timing everything from 5:30 a.m. on to her meds and pee and sun-downing blind frenzy that began each day around 5:00 p.m., to not really sleeping for the 15 months of her hospice care.

 

I do not regret one second of this exhausting schedule. It was an honor and what I wanted to do. The pandemic actually made my life easier—more acceptable. It was just Maya and me for the last year+ and I cherished every minute of it.

 

But Monday night, she let it be known she was done, and Tuesday morning Wendy McCulloch, DVM (Pet Requiem, LLC) came to the apartment, listened to my explanation about Maya's condition, and was an invisible angel, barely rousing Maya, who had uncharacteristically chosen to go back to bed after our early-morning ablutions, and sent my girl on her way. It was as peaceful and smooth a transition as I could imagine.

 

I'm being similarly gentle with my own transition to a solo life but I found myself twice yesterday declaring to people that I want the same treatment that I and Dr. McCulloch gave to Maya. And suddenly it seems very necessary to declare it in a public forum.

 

I am about to turn 71 years old and am in great shape due to daily exercise, a vegan diet, and my four flights of stairs; I can carry 30 pounds of groceries up them without panting. I am vaccinated and boosted because to me that seems like a no brainer, but since a debacle in 2012 that I will explain in a minute, I stopped going to doctors and have opted out of the regular preventive checkups relentlessly pushed by my ever-phoning health carrier, and since I think my medical care is my own business, I have refused to get into a conversation to explain myself to them.

 

I will now explain myself: Read More 

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"Hell of a Book" by Jason Mott

11/18/21 Update: It won the National Book Award last night. Never has such a worthy and necessary great American novel received this kind of recognition at the perfect time the world needs to read this miraculous book!

 

Original Post:

 

How on earth do you review or even talk about such a devastatingly funny and shattering work of art? How can you begin to convey the nature of a story that tells the untellable?

 

I haven't a clue. So instead I'll tell a story I can tell:

 

About forty-five years ago I was grocery shopping in Food City, the long-gone supermarket at the corner of my block, West 70 Street, and Columbus Avenue. I was standing in the checkout line when an old pasty-faced White man came storming in, yelling, "Nigger! Niggers!" and slathering hate like a sudden tsunami of mucous. Like most of the people in the store, I was (and am) White. I think I stopped breathing, hoping he'd come nowhere near me and would leave soon. No management showed up to see that that happened. This is New York, they probably thought if they even noticed. Another whack job.

 

About a minute after the pasty-faced whack job entered, three little boys with bikes came trundling in, laughing and talking. They were maybe 10 and 8. Instantly the manager told them they couldn't bring those bicycles into the store, so the two older boys sent the 8-year-old to stand with the bikes outside the entrance while the 10-year-olds picked up snacks.

 

I paid for my groceries, exited the store, and I think resumed breathing. But not for long. Thirty seconds behind me, the pasty-faced nut job exploded out of the store, and seeing the little boy with the bikes, yelled, "Nigger!" either spitting or doing it with such force that the child almost fell over. And then he, the man, took off.

 

This is not my story—it is the boy's; but to completely tell it I have to say what I did: I about-faced, and took care of the little boy until his friends came out of the store. I told him all sorts of things about how the man was crazy and we were all just waiting for him to leave, and there was nothing wrong with the little boy and he should not for one second imagine that this craziness had anything to do with him. Then I asked permission to stand next to the boy until his friends came out. He nodded, speechless; in fact I don't recall him ever saying a word. But I will never forget his shocked saucer eyes. And I will never forget his numb nod once his friends came out and I asked if he would be okay now. And I will never forget a moment of devastation I witnessed and the ripples of damage that came before it and would go on and on and on that I could do not one damned thing about.

 

This is not a story about me. It is a story about that boy.

 

And Jason Mott figured out how to tell it. My heart is both broken and grateful.

 

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The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters and How He Helped me Re-meet My Father

WHAT I READ MATTERS

 

I mean this title sentence every which way you can read it.

 

I'm guessing most people will receive it with a glib, "Of course, what you read matters; it influences what you believe."

 

But I mean this sentence much more expansively: What I read, the physical form of it, really matters. As does reading it (as opposed to listening to somebody else read a text). I care who may have owned or touched the book before me, and any history I may know attached to the book affects my reading experience.

 

I spent this week reading a 75-cent, paperback of The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters, Robert Lewis Taylor's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1959 novel about a 14-year-old relentlessly smart-alecky (and sometimes very funny) boy's picaresque adventures during 1849, following his pipe-dreaming gambling doctor father across the country to find gold in California.

 

If I were reading Jaimie McPheeters as an ebook, I might have abandoned it at the first mention of "darkies" because I just don't have the stomach for this in 2021. If I were reading a shiny new edition paperback, same thing. Yes, the writing is good, I might have reasoned, but why subject myself to casual racism and so many words? The book is of a bygone era and style.

 

But I'm reading the cracked brown pages turned and read by my father on his suburban commute to and from his job in New York City in 1960. I know this because I found his train ticket stub, used as a book mark, on the last page, and I know he loved this book because he once told me he did. Probably that's why I grabbed it from my mother's last house several years after my father's own pipe dreams and addictions imploded and he stuck a gun in his mouth. And it's why the book has stayed on the top shelf in my apartment since 1973.

 

I'd been eying it for months while I did my aerobic workouts. The spine drew me. I even got up on a ladder a few months ago to see what it was and when I saw, I remembered Dad's smile and joy when he said it was a really good book. I'll read that, I thought.

 

And it took until this week, months after the first beckoning, for me to pull it down and wipe off the dust bunnies.

 

When I lie on my couch and read this book, I know I'm touching something my father thought was good. I know that when he read this he was the sane, loving man who loved to read and loved the fact that I loved reading too, even though we had almost nothing else in common. Read More 

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Standing Ovation for Percival Everett's "The Trees"

Percival Everett writes books that absolutely need to be written, and although my introduction to him was his dramatic novel So Much Blue, I somehow intuited the inside zaniness married to a skydiver’s sense of adventure and a philosopher’s wisdom and fearless vision of truth because my head exploded on first contact: “This is it!” screamed my hair follicles. “This is who I’ve been looking for.” And I hadn’t even read I Am Not Sidney Poitier, Glyph, or the incredibly prescient God’s Country, all of which made me scream with laughter and almost roll off my couch in joy and agony.

 

Reading The Trees after reading a lot of Everett’s 30+ books allows you to secretly smack your lips, knowing some of the precursors to this new one. Almost immediately I thought I knew what was coming because I’d read American Desert, and the ending to one of my favorite Everett books, the aforementioned God’s Country, has echoes of this new book, and almost seems to demand that it happen eventually. And now it’s here.

 

To compare Everett’s work to anybody else’s is pointless. So instead, here’s a scene that conveys what I love here and in his earlier funny novels (no setup necessary):

The Doctor Reverend Cad Fondle was sitting in his living room with his wife, Fancel. Fancel was a big woman, big enough that she hardly ever moved from her corduroy recliner, which was stuck in recline. There was a half a meat lover’s pizza and two beers on the foldout tray between her recliner and her husband’s. They were watching television, switching back and forth between Fox News and professional wrestling.
“They’s right,” Fancel said. “That Obamacare don’t work worth a hill of puppy shit. We done bought in, causin’ we had to, and I ain’t lost nary a pound.”
Fondle took long pull on his beer. “Well, the country’s done with that experiment. Smart-ass uppity sumbitch. You know he thinks he’s better’n us.”
“That Hannity is cute,” Fancel said. “If I could get my hand anywhere near my vajayjay, I’d rub me one out just watchin’ him.”
“You can’t reach it, so shut up.” Read More 
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The Reckoning: Our Nation’s Trauma and Finding a Way to Heal by Mary L. Trump, Ph.D.

There is something medicinal about hearing straight truth. With no affiliation to anything but the truth, clinical psychologist Mary L. Trump writes with muscular clarity, scholarship, and fury about anybody who acts in denial of the truth—from the beginnings of the practice of enslaving and torturing Black people to Obama and his justice department refusing to prosecute the architects of the Great Recession to the wanton cruelty and pathological lying of her uncle Donald to the January 6th insurrection to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris stating that this is not a racist country even though there is systemic racism. Even the Supreme Court and Jimmy Carter don't get away without condemnation.

 

Mary Trump writes with the heat of a wildfire and truncates American history in a way that makes its carefully crafted hypocrisy even more shocking. There is not a lot of new material if you've been educating yourself with whole history (as opposed to filtered white history) and if you follow the news. That said, if you haven't been reading book after book on racism, antiracism, and the history of racism, this is an excellent summation and exposure of the creation of ongoing systemic racism. But whatever your level of education, you will benefit from the passion of the writing steeped in scholarship and the laser focus that makes this book vibrate.

 

It is a book about the historical creation of our national trauma. Trauma comes not simply from the brutality and torture of slavery and genocide done with impunity that form the foundation of the U.S.A., but it comes from many "good" people looking the other way because the inconvenience of addressing and redressing the wrong was/is just too damned hard. It comes from denial and lies to justify the unjustifiable. It comes because people are reluctant to give up anything—money, power, complacency, peaceful co-existence with people who would be offended if they rocked the boat, "willful blindness. (115)" And all this was there long before it manifested Donald J. Trump.

 

The introduction to The Reckoning is one of the best book intros I've read. In it Mary Trump recounts her own history of PTSD and going into a full crisis that led to a stint in a rehab treatment facility after the election of her uncle. All that along with her grounded knowledge of psychology bring something unique to the book—well served by the fact that she is such a good writer.

 

This is not a "Trump book." It is an us/U.S. book. It is a fearless demand that we Americans look at who we are, who we have been, how we birthed the current divisions and violence, and acknowledging the wrongs, atone and repair. Read More 

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Books to Inspire Good Writing—Learning by Osmosis

 

I didn't go to grad school because frankly it never occurred to me. At the age most people enroll in MFA programs, I was zipping around NYC auditioning for acting roles and writing short stories and plays in my alone time. I didn't talk much about the writing, but once I mentioned it to a colleague when I had a menial job at an arts council and he asked why I didn't write a novel. Glibly but honestly I replied, "Because I'm too young." I knew I had so much to learn that I didn't even know what I didn't know, so certainly I wasn't mature enough to write a novel.

 

Now that I'm an old writer with some published novels, even though I still struggle to get my work seen and have none of the foundation contacts that MFA students start building during their student days, I'm still glad I took a different route.

 

I read voraciously and though some MFA grads produce good work out of the gate, I find many such first novels to be a little forced and self-consciously literary—the kind of thing that I associate with workshop students being praised by a teacher and one another for finding their original voice, for crafting esoteric observations, for being imaginative. And this group reinforcement results in a kind of groupspeak of self-conscious vocabulary and "insights" as well as endless stream-of-consciousness literary-sounding lists that I hear in my mind's ear in the droning monotone affected by certain writers giving readings of their work.

 

I've learned my craft and continue to learn by osmosis—by reading fine writing and getting feedback on my work from individuals I trust. Also, earning my living an editor of other people's work has been a boon to my own. I notice things as an editor does and, when inspired, steal like a pickpocket, morphing inspiring bits in the throes of my own creation so that you would never recognize their source.

 

Here are a few books that have been my teachers.  Read More 

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The Passenger: People See What They Decide to See and Make Drastic Judgments

I usually only post book reviews of books that won't leave me alone. I thought, and hoped, that when I finished reading The Passenger by Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz, I was done with it. Since I closed the final page, I've gone to a book club meeting where we discussed another book and I'm reading my third new book. But Boschwitz won't leave. Hence, here's the review:

The Passenger

 

Otto Silbermann, with his Aryan nose but his Jewish last name is on the run. Although he's just been excoriated and demeaned by his Nazi business partner, he managed to get some of his money back. However he's stuck:

Mulling over his situation, he wondered what am I supposed to do now? Because they're still going after Jews. I can't stay a single night in my apartment—not with forty-one thousand marks!
We have to leave Germany, but no place will let us in I have enough money to start a new life, but how to get it out of the country? I don't have the nerve to try to smuggle it across. Should I stay or go? What to do?
Should I risk ten years in prison for a currency offense? But what other choice is there? Without money I'd starve out there. Every road leads to ruin, every single one. How am I supposed to fight against the state?
. . .
Other people were smarter. Other people are always smarter! If I'd realized in time what was going on, I could have saved my money. But everyone was constantly reassuring me. Becker [business partner] more than anybody. And fool that I am, I let myself be reassured. . . .
Maybe things aren't half so bad, and the whole business is one big psychosis. But no, I should finally acknowledge the reality of the situation: things are going to get worse—much, much worse! (80-81)

It's 1938 and Otto Silbermann, a persnickety neurotic, could not be less suited to running for his life.

 

Author Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz (1915-1942) wrote and published an earlier version of The Passenger when he was only 23, and he died before he could get a revised edition to his publisher. At first the writing seemed to me to have some of the clumsiness of a young writer—overwriting, heavy-handed dialogue, redundancy—but as my anxiety grew (more on that in a second) so did the writing grow on me and I stopped judging.

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Medical Miscellany—from heartbreaking to hilarious

A Rotten Foundation Unmasked

 

I wish everyone would read this short (43 pages), free, absolutely remarkable book (some memoir, a ton of facts, shocking and readable) by Pamela Wible, M.D.

 

If you want to know why our medical system . . . and the whole culture . . . is so screwed up, read this. It’s written for doctors and med students about their training, but you can effortlessly extrapolate to the problem that becomes a cancer when people ignore their inner moral compass because of peer pressure or for some outer gain.

 

There are some people who don’t know or care what’s right or wrong but that is not the majority of us. However when people en masse ignore what they know, we’ve got the mess we are in. The website for downloading the free pdf is here: IdealMedicalCare.org

 

The Precursor to Hilarity

 

To set up the bit that follows this one, I thought I'd mention this just-published NPR story about insane but normal medical charges. This REALLY happens.

 

And finally . . .

Hilarity

 

The more upset I am, the funnier I write. This just-published piece of satirical hilarity was borne of what I came to realize was a completely unnecessary breast biopsy on the day of Superstorm Sandy, on the eve of Obama's second election in 2012. On that day I experienced enormous relief that the test result was benign. But then the bills started coming: from doctors who had never identified themselves as out-of-network, and charges I never could have anticipated for a 15-minute needle stick—charges that were actually inflated due to the fact that my catastrophic medical coverage which did not cover them had higher "allowable fees" than the hospital would have charged if I'd had no insurance.

I'm happy to have finally found a home for this piece in a new online journal called Abandon. Read the whole thing at :

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Abandon Journal

 

In Conclusion

 

There is a lot of rot in our human systems when we destroy one another and the planet. If I dwell on it too much, I become a floppy, exhausted lump of flesh who can't get off my couch. But when I manage to sit upright, I can remember that the solution to most every problem is first to see it, so we can then do something about it.

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