Writing a blog post about a feminist theorist as sharp and influential as Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick is an intimidating prospect, which is why it's taken me more than a week to get to this post in memory of Sedgwick, who died on April 12.
Did you know that there's a special prayer for preparing the wicks of Shabbat candles? Neither did I. This past Tuesday, I listened to Dr. Aliza Lavie discuss her book, A Jewish Woman's Prayer Book, a collection of prayers composed by and for women over hundreds of years in all parts of the world.
If I ever had any doubt about whether "the ordinary" mattered, Beautiful Hills of Brooklyn drove such doubt away. Based on a true story, and adapted from the play by Ellen Cassedy, Beautiful Hills of Brooklyn is a life portrait of Jessie Singer Sylvester, a retired elderly Jewish woman living on a pension in 1976 who is confronting the changes in her life and in her beloved Brooklyn neighborhood.
Usually, we have used this space to review new books (see recent reviews of The Book of Dahlia, Away, and The Zookeeper's Wife), but I can not let the opportunity pass to write a bit about Amy Bloom's non-fiction book, Normal, which was first published in 2002. I had initially put Normalon the Jewesses with Attitude Summer Reading List as a whim - an aside, even, just something to accompany my reading of Away if I decided that I liked Amy Bloom. I liked Away a lot, and now, having read Normal, I like Ms. Bloom so much more.
Those of you whose lives don't involve a weekly update on what new comics have come out this Wednesday might not be familiar with Y The Last Man, a 60-issue comic book (10 volume graphic novel), whose much anticipated final issue just came out last month. The premise of Y The Last Man is that a mystery plague instantaneously wipes out every man and male mammal on planet Earth except for Yorick Brown, a 22 year old magician/slacker, and his capuchin monkey, Ampersand.
I made the mistake of picking up The Zookeeper's Wife and reading it as though it were a novel. Maybe I was just in that headspace because the first two books on the Jewesses with Attitude Summer Reading List were fiction. The Zookeeper's Wife, however, is a genre-bending piece of prose that defies the conventions of history, memoir, and naturalist writing, all of which it employs.
It goes without saying that Jewish women have so many accomplishments to be proud of. A quick search through the Jewish Women's Archive's Discover pages reveals women both lauded and nearly forgotten who have made strides in business, medicine, philosophy and the arts. Telling their stories is our mission. And this story is a big one.