I love to lie. I can’t tell a true story the same way two times—each time I add new details, stretch the possibilities of what could happen, twist the ending just a little bit. And so I’m a writer of fiction—I took my dirty little secret and turned it into a career! But something disturbed my practice of lying while writing The Paradise Guest House. I had to do research. I hate research. Research is the opposite of making stuff up.
I was expecting to be a little more blorft (a word invented by Tina Fey meaning “completely overwhelmed but proceeding as if everything’s fine & reacting to the stress with the torpor of a possum”). I would suddenly be swamped with local celebrity attention and orders for my Renaissance Woman poster, which they’d asked me (yes, they asked me!) to use as set decoration in Fey’s new movie.
Just about every film buff and mystery fan knows the classic films noir—The Big Sleep, Murder My Sweet, Out of the Past, Sunset Boulevard, The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity. But here are a few not-quite-so-famous noirs that are also worth a look. (I’ll be posting one a day for a week.)
“The Blue Dahlia” – (1946) Raymond Chandler wrote it as they shot and allegedly polished off a case of Scotch, with round-the-clock nurses in attendance, in order to get the script done on deadline.
The poems in Render had been in search of an arc, a sequence, a framework to hang upon for years. They finally found it in an unlikely place—the work of photographer Sally Mann, whose retrospective I happened upon while working in England. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence that two Southerners happened to be in London at the same time, but I don’t believe in coincidences. While I was putting this manuscript together, I learned something else about Mann that most people don’t know—she’s also a poet. For me, that’s synchronicity.
Russia, 1905—After an attack on the village of Koritz, in the Settlement of the Pale, an area where Jews are forced to live, Leah Peretz is left to protect and care for her young children. Her life is complicated by the attentions of the Russian officer Captain Vaselik, who is attracted to her despite his hatred of the Jews. Can she trust him? Her journey is played out against the events happening in the country. Revolution is beginning to roil in Russia, everyone is frustrated and restless, the government inflames anti-Semitism, pogroms are committed against the Jews, while Leah must survive and defend her family and finally discover her path.
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