Confession: It's not Virginia Woolf I'm afraid of -- it's Cynthia Ozick. Even though she blurbed my last book (disclosure, disclosure) and once recommended me for a fellowship I didn't get (thanks for the memories, Mr. Guggenheim), still I'm afraid of her. She reminds me of Virginia Woolf, is why.
Boiled potatoes in the first sentence, a beige oil cloth in the second. Yes, friends, we are in the much-feared terrain of émigré lit -- a darkly remembered world where wet shoes stuffed with newspaper never quite manage to dry before they're put back on again, where widowed aunts eat bologna sandwiches for breakfast as well as lunch and gossipy grandmothers declaim at length about the recalcitrance of their bowel movements.