After reading at the warm and wondrous Wy’East Book Shoppe in Welches (Oregon) on Mount Hood last weekend, I started driving home in the dusk and hit a deer. I am fine, the car will be fine, and the deer–? Dunno; it’s mountain lion territory there. Meanwhile, today the elegant Indies Unlimited brought out its sneak peek of The Rescuer’s Path, my recent novel that recounts both the 1971 love affair between a Holocaust survivor’s daughter and a fugitive Arab-American antiwar activist suspected of the bombing of an army truck, and the 2001 search of their birth daughter for the truth of her origins– http://wp.me/p1WnN1-4Yc
Come join us for my reading from The Rescuer’s Path in Welches, OR, June 15, 2012, 7:30 pm, Wy’East Book Shoppe and Art Gallery, in the woodsy mall at Highway 26 one block west of the Welches traffic light.
The Rescuer’s Path is the tale of a Holocaust survivor’s daughter who, in Nixon-era Washington DC, finds, aids, and comes to love a half-Arab antiwar leader suspected by the FBI in a lethal truck-bombing. It is the story of their tragic love and of the search by their birth daughter, amid the shadows of 9/11, for the truth of her origins.
Ursula K. Le Guin calls this novel “exciting, physically vivid, and romantic.” Acclaimed novelist Cheryl Strayed says “The Rescuer’s Path held me from the first page to the last.” Flannery O’Connor Award–winner Carole L. Glickfeld says “I could not stop reading this novel–I love it.” Small Press Review says “The writing is lyrical and poetic, the characters vivid, and the story captivating.” FirstMotherForum calls The Rescuer’s Path “a compelling story with universal themes of love and loss, separation and reconciliation.”
“These characters will break your heart and put it back together again,” notes Portland author Heather Sharfeddin. Berkeley activist/songwriter Carol Denney says “This is the book you can’t put down, the people you will remember, the vibrant story we all share.” This novel demands we ask, notes the Jewish Transcript (JT) News, “How do we make peace, in ourselves and in the world?”
Come hear the reading, ask questions of the author, and perhaps purchase a signed copy of The Rescuer’s Path (2012, Plain View, $15.95).
Questions about this event? For more information: http://www.wyeastonline.com/event/meet-author-book-signing-paula-freidman-author-rescuers-path
Authors among Us
A reading and booksigning by authors Paula Friedman, Miralee Ferrell, and Sheila Simonson
May 12, 2012, 2 pm, White Salmon Valley Community Library, 77 NE Wauna Avenue, White Salmon, WA
Come listen and enjoy! I’ll be reading from my new novel The Rescuer’s Path, about the tragic love between a young Jewish woman and an Arab-American peace activist pursued by the FBI. Sheila and Miralee will read from their books, too. Plenty of time for Q&A and discussion afterward, and signed book copies will be available–all in the library’s beautiful Sprint/Baker Gallery. Come spend a great afternoon in the scenic Columbia River Gorge region east of Portland, OR.
It’s either list the 10 best volumes of fiction of all time–or rather, my 10 favorites–or post again about how most novels of any originality get systematically swamped by the “star system” megacorporate culture (more accurately, “culture”) in, especially, the United States.
So, we say, Occupy. But one needs sometimes a break. Therefore, now, as promised back in January, here are the “10 best novels (and other fiction volumes) of all time,” or at least in my opinion.
- Crime and Punishment. There is no question; you are there with Raskolnikov, horrified of a sudden to have forgot so obvious a risk as the hat, the strikingly noticeable hat, you realize you’re still wearing–and recognizing, as more and more you shall, that in your striving for criminal perfection you are increasingly vulnerable and your philosophical truths open to question. And for the next week in St. Petersburg, the next hours or days until you the reader come to the end of this novel, you are Raskolnikov. The novel has flaws; neither Svidrigailov nor, especially, Porfiry is quite real; each is too much a reflection of or foil for Raskolnikov (and there are other flaws). But it has Raskolnikov. And Sonia. And Katerina Ivanovna making the children dance to “show [the rich] what children like these have come to.” It remains the novel against which all others must be measured.
- A la recherche du temps perdu (Remembrance of Things Past)–which is really seven volumes, but let’s count them as one. Proust’s masterpiece is masterful indeed. Often shocking in its honesty, it’s sometimes terribly moving and sometimes hysterically funny. And a beautifully accurate evocation of Parisian moeurs (and not just those of the turn of the 20th century either!). Read it in the French; it’s even better. (Note: here and throughout, apologies for my errors in French spelling, prepositions, or etc.)
- Les liaisons dangereuses. De la Clos’s elegant study of love and power, games and real emotions, retains both the wit and the feeling that it had in the early nineteenth century. Again, best in the original and gracefully written French, but there are excellent translations too.
- Tell Me a Riddle. Of these three short stories and one novella by Tillie Olsen, two pieces are unforgettable. It is impossible to read the 5-page story “I Stand Here Ironing” without crying–if, anyway, you are a daughter or a mother. And the title novella delves life, love, loss, politics, family, mortality, and what we may call the “meaning of life” in a way that, reading, one knows makes this work great.
- This is an extra but who’s writing this list, eh? The Rescuer’s Path. This novel, by Paula Friedman, indeed also “delves life, love, loss, politics, family, mortality, and what we may call the ‘meaning of life.'” It makes some readers cry, and some call it unforgettable. Small Press Review, Ursula Le Guin, Cheryl Strayed, Carole Glickfeld, JTNews, Jewish Observer, and many other fine authorities praise it highly. Read it; enjoy it; you will remember it.
- Victory. Probably Conrad’s best. Or you may prefer Lord Jim. It’s Lord Jim that has the great line “He had jumped.” It’s Victory that has the great line “Judge you? I would have to judge the universe.” Lord Jim is about guilt and courage and trying to undo; it is about identity and becoming. Victory is, as my tenth-grade English teacher said, “all about love.” It is about giving everything.
- The Diviners. Canadian author Margaret Laurence’s great novel of the lifelong love between an impoverished girl who becomes a success, and the metis outcast and folksong writer/singer who is, at the start, her childhood friend. It’s a tale about class and prejudice, about acceptance and commitment, about decisions and the divining of life for what it is. It’s a very adult tale of life and years. You will not be sorry you read it. (Maybe this should be number 6.)
- And actually this should be no. 2. Kristin Lavransdatter. Sigrid Undset won the 1928 Nobel Prize for this trilogy. The three volumes cover the 50 or so years of the heroine’s life, in 14th-century Norway. Undset, in this and an earlier novel based a couple of centuries earlier, worked out a language usage to give a period sense without being archaic; as subsequently with Tolkien, the work involved created an unforgettable linguistic triumph. But what stands out most is Kristin’s conflicting thoughts and longings–her religious devotion and her love for home and father, versus her desire for the dashing Erlend and her commitment to the children and life they build together. The intensity of Kristin’s mental life, the swift sweep of her changes from doubts to acceptances, from duty to longings, from the way of the world to the way of the cross–and back again, with many variations over many times–is only matched by the intensity of Raskolnikov’s persona. And here, instead of 19th-century St. Petersburg, we have the late-medieval world of the first half of the 14th century (hah–and I just gave away a major plot element). Life, love, conflict, history, a recreation of the period’s religious life–this is a book to live within.
- You have your choice–Borges’s Labyrinths, Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Kafka, or any volume of Poe’s short fiction.
- You’re probably expecting War and Peace or Anna Karenina, and maybe you’ll get one. Because Anna Karenina, which is really about Levin’s questionings and marriage, has the wonderful near-end section where Tolstoy has Levin suddenly realize that (his) life is actually . . . . And this sudden recognition works. Works very well–even though every course in writing or literature you ever take says this can’t work. A more recent book, for which its author received a Macarthur grant, The Mind-Body Problem (and we know where Rebecca Goldstein got that title for her novel, don’t we?), does the same thing–makes a sudden final realization work, swelling and closing the plotline beautifully, enobling the narrator, and–hey wow, showing that it can be done! But, as noted–and for the no. 10 place here–Tolstoy first showed the way.
- Okay, this is really really really really hard. This is who-gets-left-out land. Do I toss no. 11 to the Goldstein book, thus avoiding having to write another capsule rendition–and besides the book deserves the place. Or do I hand the laurels to the old Modern Library giant volume, The Complete Novels and Stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne, some of these being so very good? And what of those teenage favorites, Catcher in the Rye and Hersey’s The Wall and Balzac’s La Quete de l’Absolu and Hardy’s Jude the Obscure (or the later-read Tess of the d’Urbervilles)? What of The Old Wives’ Tale? Or Piercy’s Vida or Three Women, Sarton’s As We Are Now? Or Le Guin’s works, or Tolkien’s trilogy, or A Canticle for Leibowitz? Nevertheless, the place goes to House on the Strand, one of the last novels by underrated English 20th-century author Daphne du Maurier. This novel (like du Maurier’s French Creek, with its heroine who captivates a pirate) is about coming to “maturity” and giving up youthful romance for the daily grind and commitment. It’s a novel that interweaves the late 20th century and the mid-14th century. And it’s really a novel about the magic and danger of writing. Trust me, it’s good.
I’m excited to be reading from my novel The Rescuer’s Path and leading a very related discussion, “‘Unwed mothers’ and other outlaws: Nonconforming mothers, single pregnancy, social activism–then and now,” at the newly revamped In Other Words Feminist Community Center, 14 NE Killingsworth, Portland, Oregon, on April 28, 5 to 6:30 p.m.
Never solely a bookstore, and now more than ever a center for community activities, In Other Words is a most inviting place for this reading and discussion of issues ranging from the social pressures on “unwed mothers” pre-Roe to the hardships confronted by impoverished single-parent families today, from the risks confronting antiwar and civil rights activists of “the Sixties” to the dangers, present and to come, for Occupiers and others who confront today’s militarized police, privatized prisons, and dismantling of basic Constitutional protections.
Ursula Le Guin calls The Rescuer’s Path “exciting, physically vivid, and romantic,” and Small Press Review says “the writing is lyrical and poetic, the characters vividly drawn, and the story captivating.” “I could not top reading this novel,” notes Flannery O’Connor Award winner Carole Glickfeld, and acclaimed Portland author Cheryl Strayed says The Rescuer’s Path “held me from the first page to the last.”
In The Rescuer’s Path, a Holocaust survivor’s young daughter finds and aids a wounded fugitive, the half-Arab antiwar leader suspected of a lethal truck bombing. The two become friends, then lovers, and eventually flee the FBI to seeming refuge in the Colorado Rockies. But, after a brief idyll, pursuit closes in and leads to tragedy. In the aftermath, the couple’s baby daughter is yielded at birth for adoption; thirty years later, in the shadows of 9/11, this grown daughter seeks the truth about her heritage.
With flashbacks to Holocaust rescue, scenes from a 1980s-1990s Berkeley marriage, refugee family tales, and basic issues of mortality and of righteous living, The Rescuer’s Path provides lively meat for reading and discussion.
You are invited!
Three Oregon readings now scheduled for The Rescuer’s Path, my new novel of the antiwar movement, the struggle for justice, an adoption reunion, and the love between a Holocaust survivor’s sheltered daughter and an anguished half-Arab peace activist suspected by the FBI of a lethal truck bombing:
Hood River Library, Hood River, Oregon, April 1, 2012, 2 p.m. Cosponsored by the library and Waucoma Books, Hood River, Oregon.
In Other Words–Women’s Bookstore and Community Center, Portland, Oregon, April 28, 2012, 5-6:30 p.m. Reading, with discussion “Unwed Mothers and Other Outlaws–1960s and the Present Day”
White Salmon Valley Library, White Salmon, Washington, May 12, 2-4 p.m. Three Regional Authors Read.
I’m happy to tell you that the prestigious and nationally distributed Small Press Review praises my new novel, The Rescuer’s Path, very glowingly–mostly–in the Jan.-Feb. 2012 issue. Here’s the review; enjoy!
Small Press Review—review by Marie C. Sanchez
The Rescuer’s Path
by Paula Friedman (2012; 195 pp; Pa; $15.95; Plain View Press)
From the first page, Friedman illuminates a world near Washington DC of gullies and game trails and Gavin Hareem, a Nixon-era wounded antiwar leader who is accused of the deadly bombing of an army truck. While Malca Bernovski rides a horse off-trail, she encounters the wounded half-Syrian fugitive and, by aiding him, sets off a blossoming romance that sends them both on a desperate struggle for survival and justice. The sheltered Malca, 16-year old daughter of a Holocaust survivor, reveals surprising resources and choices.
If you’ve ever wanted to enter the mind of a pacifist who eventually turns to violence, this is it. Gavin alternates between reality and insanity, clarity and confusion, brilliance and absurdity, striking just the right notes of believability.
Years later, the lovers’ child searches for her parents and the story moves seamlessly from the nation’s capital to the Colorado Rockies, from the Warsaw Ghetto to post-9/11 San Francisco.
Time itself appears among the major characters. Deft strokes unobtrusively fill in the couple’s histories without slowing the story, and elegant leaps propel the story forward years and decades. However, Friedman’s adroit touch fades toward the end where the treatment of time feels more like gaps than well-timed jumps.
The couple’s daughter searching out her birth parents in the last third of the book starts out promising, but at the end, seemed unfinished. The treatment of daughter and time at the end of the book seemed disappointingly lackluster, given such an incandescent beginning.
That said, the writing is lyrical and poetic, the places finely detailed, the characters vividly drawn and the story captivating.
—JanFeb 2012 SPR—