Judith Viorst has long been an eyewitness to the quirks of the human life cycle. She is a renowned children’s author — producing such gems as the storybook “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” — and has written several adult nonfiction books, including the best-selling “Necessary Losses: The Loves, Illusions, Dependencies, and Impossible Expectations That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Grow.” She has also published books of poems reflecting on what it’s like to realize that you might no longer qualify as “young”; she has written about turning 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 — and now, 80.
Although Gregory Levey briefly worked as a speechwriter for Ariel Sharon (a job he more or less fell into, and which he recounted in his 2008 book “Shut Up, I’m Talking: And Other Diplomacy Lessons I Learned in the Israeli Government”), he’s no expert in Middle East politics. His official experience left him feeling no more knowledgeable and no less powerless than the masses when it comes to the prospect of peace in the region.
A fierce believer in the power and possibility of fairy tales, Kate Bernheimer has explored the genre’s history in essays and scholarship, edited anthologies of and about fairy tales, founded a literary journal focused on them (Fairy Tale Review) and written fresh tales of her own — as short stories, novels, and children’s books. It’s an area of focus that challenges her to be both a preservationist and an inventor.
Sam Munson is the former online editor of commentary magazine, the grandson of the neoconservative thinker and writer Norman Podhoretz, and now, newly, the author of a stunning debut novel, “The November Criminals.” The novel follows high school senior Addison Schacht, an upper-middle class, Jewish teenager in suburban D.C, as he becomes obsessed with the murder of one of his classmates — a classmate he barely knew. He sat down with the Forward’s Nadja Spiegelman to discuss secular Judaism, teen angst and the ’90s.
Adam Langer and his father, Seymour, had what Langer describes as “a typical relationship between a Depression-era father and son.” His dad, he writes in his new memoir, “My Father’s Bonus March,” was “a man I respected and admired but around whom I rarely felt at ease,” a man wary of discussing his life with any of his four children. This withholding only made Langer more determined to figure out the substance of his father’s infrequent overtures — a pursuit that gained momentum after the elder Langer died in 2005.
One of the few certainties in Alice Eve Cohen’s life was her infertility, the result of her mother taking the synthetic hormone DES while she was pregnant, before the drug’s potential for fetal damage was widely known.
Susie Handler died of acute lymphocytic leukemia in 1969, when she was 8 years old. Her sisters, Sarah and Jessica (ages 4 and 10, respectively, at the time), grew up in the aftermath, with the next inevitable trauma looming: Sarah had Kostmann’s syndrome, a bone marrow disorder even more rare than the disease that killed Susie. She would die, too.
Jonathan Garfinkel’s new book, “Ambivalence: Adventures in Israel and Palestine,” is, in a broad sense, the story of one man and his philosophical, spiritual and romantic crises. Pretty quickly, though, it’s revealed to be about the mostly predictable things that happen when a guy tries to work through his mixed-up feelings in an especially mixed-up place.