September 27, 2007
Books: A stranger on a journey
(Page 2 - Previous Page)Bloom, 54, is the mother of three grown kids; last Saturday she was remarried at her home outside of New Haven, Conn. In the spring semester, she teaches creative writing at Yale. She is also an executive producer, writer and a creator of the Lifetime Network television series "State of Mind." While Bloom used to serve on the board of her synagogue, she now puts her energy into local politics, serving on the Democratic Town Committee in Durham. Trained as a therapist, she no longer practices.
"I learned how to listen to people, how not to finish their sentences, how to observe them closely," she said, of the connection between being a novelist and therapist. "By and large, I don't think being a therapist makes you insightful."
The granddaughter of immigrants, Bloom said she finds issues of foreignness and language particularly interesting. Her father's father kept a short journal of his journey to America, and her father had it translated from Yiddish. Her mother's mother had limited English, and as Bloom explained, it was "clear to her that the world was divided into nice and not so nice. Before 1915 was not so nice, after that was nice." Her grandparents rarely spoke about the past, and there was "something about the stories you don't get told" that intrigued her.
"I just think that so much is unknown about the people who make that kind of journey. As the children and grandchildren of those people, we hear how they moved into an apartment, then a house -- that's the story that has been crafted, like a bedtime story. It was nothing to do with what really happened."
Lillian lingers with the reader long after the novel is finished, and it's pleasant to have her around. She's no romantic, but, indeed, she makes her own luck, losing everything and finding love.
Amy Bloom will appear at the Skirball Cultural Center on Oct. 2, 7:30 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call (310) 440-4561 or visit http://www.skirball.org .
Sandee Brawarsky is book critic for The Jewish Week.
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