This story just appeared in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. I know Penny Schwartz, the writer, she’s a lovely, smart woman who already wrote one story about Seraphic Press. Everything in the story is accurate except my age. I’m not fifty-seven years old. I’m fifty-four. But that’s okay, Karen says that when people see my picture they will consider me as a young-looking fifty-seven.
I’m taking a break from work on my next book, The Hebrew Kid and Buffalo Bill. I’ve been up since four in the morning and now, a bit past noon, my brain feels empty–a useless blob of gray matter. I decide to keep myself busy by running some oh-so-necessary errands. My first stop is the post office where I mail a few copies of my book to reviewers who have expressed interest in the novel. As I step out of the post office, I happen to glance across the street and catch a glimpse of an incredibly beautiful woman. Quickly, I turn my gaze downward, afterall, I am a married man, a happily married man deeply in love with my wife. But I’m also totally male, cursed (or blessed) with the Y chromosome, and yes, naturally I look up again, hoping to get a better look at this vision of loveliness. She is closer now and, oh my, she crosses my vision like a moon, closer and closer she comes and–
–and it is Karen, my wife.
“Hey,” she says, “what are you doing here?”
“What, are you okay?”
“Had to mail something.”
I’m feeling sooooooo guilty that I blurt it out: “I thought you were somebody else.”
“A really beautiful woman.”
Whoops. That did not come out right. Karen arches an eyebrow, waits for more
“What I mean to say is, I didn’t realize who you were and I was looking at you as if you were a different beautiful woman.”
“I’m not really expressing myself correctly.”
“Sad thing, considering you’re a writer.”
I sigh. The more I say, the deeper the hole I dig for myself.
Karen pins me with her long, dark gaze. A look that has, for twenty-seven years, reduced me to jelly. Then she smiles, chuckles, links her arm through mine, and we make our way home. In spite of Ariel’s death, in spite of all the grief, I realize that I am blessed.
Karen Adds: It was a very wide boulevard.
I’m excited to announce that Miriam Shaviv is finally ready to launch the world’s first Jewish book blog, People of the Book. I am sure it’s going to be a valuable and genuinely fascinating blog.
Contributers to the blog are:
Miriam Shaviv, former literary editor of The Jerusalem Post.
Robert Avrech, publisher, Seraphic Press — http://www.seraphicpress.com/
Rachel Berenblat, The Velveteen Rabbi —
Ayelet Waldman, author —
Shawn Landres from Religion and Society, co author w/Michael Berenbaum of After the Passion is Gone: American Religious Consequences —
David Reuben, Eli Katz, Ariel Kahn, Azi Bermant, Judy Shaviv — bibliophiles
Contributors can post about anything and everything to do with Jewish books/literature/authors, whenever you have anything to say. All posts can be cross-posted to your other blogs.
Please also let Miriam know if you know anyone else who would make a good contributor.
I’m delighted about this new blog; as a Jew and a book lover it’s refreshing to see this kind of site open up in the blogosphere.
An essay I wrote about an obscure but wonderful Jewish novel The King’s Persons by Joanne Greenberg is currently posted on the site.
The interview last night with Rabbi Daniel Lapin on his radio show was a delight. However, I’m always amazed at how many people are obsessed with Hollywood. I want to talk about The Hebrew Kid and the Apache Maiden. I want to talk about Seraphic Press and why Karen and I have established this publishing house. But invariably, the conversation somehow always comes back to my career in Hollywood. I suppose I’m jaded. The stars that I have known are not terribly interesting people, certainly not very bright, but people are simply fascinated by Hollywood and its culture of glamour.
In truth, I have long felt that if you are interested in glamour, specifically glamorous leading ladies, then the place to look is Chinese movies. American stars are hugely overexposed and not a shred of glamour sticks to any of them. But look at the great Chinese actress Gong Li, billed in Asia as “The Most Beautiful Woman in the World.” She has the cinematic presence of Garbo and Dietrich. Several years ago, I was in China researching a film and I had the chance to meet Gong Li. She was gracious but imperial, and I understood, perhaps for the first time, what a real star looks and acts like. I also met the stunning Ziyi Zhang who later starred in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, House of Flying Daggers and Hero. What Gong Li and Ziyi Zhang have besides beauty, is something that is totally missing from American cinema: mystery.
We know far too much about the messy lives and loves of American movie stars. True, the tabloids contribute to this lack of privacy. But American stars are also to blame. They pontificate on political issues far too readily, and good Lord do they say some stupid things. The actors and actresses in China tend to keep their distance from public pronouncements. They know, instinctively, that they are dream vessels to their millions of fans and so, for the most part, maintain a rigorous silence. If you get a chance, look at the films starring these two great actresses, and you will find yourself transported to another world.