Selected Shorts: Rebel Yiddish Writers
“My First Love,” by Moishe Nadir; “A Quiet Garden Spot,” by Sholem Asch; and “Job’s Jobs,” by Aimee Bender.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Unusual stories from Yiddish writers, and a contemporary take on Job make up this program.
The first two stories in this program were read at a SELECTED SHORTS live performance called “Rebel Yiddish Writers,” which was devoted to writers who rebelled against the traditional description of much of modern Yiddish literature — realistic, sentimental, and nostalgic elegies of the European shtetl and passions of the immigrant-filled Lower East Side.
In contrast, the writer Moishe Nadir, whose story “My First Love,” begins this program, was a 1920s Greenwich Village bohemian who wore a French beret and smoked cigarettes in an ivory holder, which set in his teeth at a rakish angle. Some of his modernist tales ventured into the surreal, like “The Man Who Slept Through the End of the World,” heard in an earlier SELECTED SHORTS season. “My First Love,” is more realistic, but also extravagant and playful, and is read by John Shea, the Irish-American actor who originated the role of the yeshiva boy in Isaac Bashevis Singer’s play “Yentl.”
The author of our second work is the novelist and story writer Sholem Asch, who earned the disapproval, suspicion, and even scorn of the Yiddish literary establishment by daring to write "The Nazarene," a novel from a Jewish point of view about Jesus of Nazareth. This book, and his subsequent novels "Mary" and "The Apostle," about St. Paul, were forbidden volumes in many American Jewish households. Asch’s “A Quiet Garden Spot” deals with nothing so radical, but is a penetrating look at a family and its tensions and sorrows. The reader is Laura Esterman.
Our final story is Aimee Bender’s “Job’s Jobs.” Bender, a contemporary American Jewish writer, uses a biblical reference to frame her tale of an artist’s vexing struggles. This story was read at The Getty Museum in Los Angeles by Anjelica Huston.
The musical interlude in this program is “Chassidic Waltz”, by Andy Statman, from the album “Between Heaven and Earth.” The SELECTED SHORTS theme is Roger Kellaway’s “Come to the Meadow.”
For additional works featured on SELECTED SHORTS, please visit http://www.wnyc.org/shows/shorts/
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