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Tag Archives: Holocaust

To Conjure Up the Dead

It’s hard to commune with the dead when you are attending to your body. But didn’t I see my companion cry back there, in front of the suitcases? Did he smell the odor from human bodies?

“The Strange Afterlife of Bruno Schulz,” by Jaimy Gordon

Bruno Schulz was one of two great Polish fiction writers of the two decades between the wars, and so luckless was he, so lucky are we by comparison, that we may read his complete works in one long, trash-blown, weedy, windy, starry, swirling, Lower Carpathian day. His complete surviving works, that is—and that is the legendary pity of it. Such a day need not even take up your time, for you may go there in time according to Schulz, a limb of freak time that sprouts seamlessly out of time as we think we know it.

Explaining Myself

How much should we explain to the reader? This is a question that comes up a lot. In fact, it comes up every single time we write. Writing is a series of decisions of what to explain to the reader, what not to, what leaps and associations we believe the reader can take, should take, or might not be able to take (but do they need to?). It happens, on some level, with every word. Each word in our work is a kind of bet—which readers will recognize what we are trying to do, and which will not? And when that word combines with the next, and spreads its reach into reference or metaphor or anything beyond the basic and denotative, we make an even bigger bet.