Baron Wormser’s ‘Teach Us That Peace’

teachuspeace_wormserPoet Baron Wormser’s novel Teach Us That Peace shows how the seemingly impossible–racial harmony in the United States–began to become possible. How did we glimpse a vision of the Beloved Community?

Set in Baltimore, Wormser’s novel chronicles two very important years in American history–1962 and 1963–through the experiences of a 39-year-old mother of three and high school English teacher named Susan Mermelstein and her 16-year-old son Arthur.

This book is a great one to have over the holidays–especially as a conversation starter between generations. What were the critical events that shaped the Baby Boomers in your family? How do those events still shape their values and social-political and cultural life? What do you need to know from them about how we live today?

I studied with Baron Wormser at the Stonecoast MFA program in Maine. He’s an amazing teacher, exceedingly compassionate and gifted writer, and a man who” walks the walk” even more than he “talks the talk.” ORDER NOW.

What You Need to Know About Stieg Larsson Before Seeing ‘Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’

Naomi Pfefferman over at the Jewish Journal has posted an interesting interview about Stieg Larsson of “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” fame — just in time for the U.S. film release. (In theaters tomorrow!)

Pfefferman examines Larsson’s history fighting neo-Nazi movements in Europe and his grandfather’s time spent in a little known Swedish concentration camp.

I read Larsson’s Millennium trilogy and couldn’t put them down. An amazing investigation into modern evil – from the financial industry to far-right anti-democratic movements. With his fantastic protagonist Lisbeth Salander, Larsson flips the femme fatale script on its head. This girl uses her wicked smarts, rough-hewn moral code, and a vicious instinct for life to overcome her attackers. These novels are very violent–but it’s violence with a purpose and it takes readers into worlds where many people live and most of us would never ever want to visit.

Here’s an excerpt from Pfefferman’s article:

Stieg Larsson, the Swedish author of the international best-selling “Millennium” series, including “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” died in 2004 at age 50 of a heart attack, before the publication of his crime thrillers made him one of the most famous writers of the decade. They have sold tens of millions of copies worldwide, already spawned three Swedish films and, on Dec. 21, fans will no doubt be lining up for the opening of Hollywood’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” directed by David Fincher and starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara, with a screenplay by the Oscar-winning “Schindler’s List” scribe Steven Zaillian. (The film opens in selected theaters on Dec. 20.)

But amid all this “Stieg industry,” as the late author’s life partner, Eva Gabrielsson, put it, a crucial element often has been overlooked: Just how much Larsson embedded in his novels a fundamental passion of his life — his crusade against neo-Nazism and violent far-right movements, which he viewed as anathema to Sweden and to all modern society.

“Those who see Stieg solely as an author of crime fiction have never truly known him,” Gabrielsson writes in her memoir, “There Are Things I Want You to Know About Stieg Larsson and Me” (released last June by Seven Stories,and due out in paperback on Jan. 10). The “Millennium” series, she said, “is only one episode in Steig’s journey through this world, and it certainly isn’t his life’s work.”

“The trilogy is an allegory of the individual’s eternal fight for justice and morality, the values for which Stieg Larsson fought until the day he died,” Marie-Francoise Colombani wrote in the foreword to Gabrielsson’s book. … –by Naomi Pfefferman

Read Pfefferman’s whole article.

Doria Russell: Novelist as “God”

doriarussellforwebTwo decades ago, Mary Doria Russell, a paleoanthropologist turned novelist, was decoding the stories in ancient bones. Then she wrote two beautiful, theologically evocative books of science fiction, The Sparrow and Children of God. (You can read the preface to The Sparrow here.

I love these books and have read them over and over. Also, I interviewed Doria Russell for Sojourners last year. She’s very funny and is currently working on a novel about Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday.

The premise of The Sparrow and Children of God is that life is discovered on another planet by way of transmissions of hauntingly beautiful music. And Jesuits explorers and scientists make first contact, just as Jesuit priests were often in the vanguard of Europe’s age of discovery. Mary Doria Russell grappled with large moral and religious questions on and off the page—as she imagined the conversations and relationships between these Jesuits, the other scientists who travel with them, and the species they encounter.

Mary Doria Russell will be interviewed in a Speaking of Faith radio segment titled “The Novelist as God.” Listeners will discover what she discerned—in the act of creating a new universe—about God and about dilemmas of evil, doubt, and free will. The ultimate moral of any life and any event, Doria Russell believes, only shows itself across generations. And so the novelist, like God, she says, paints with the brush of time.

“The Novelist as God” will air on public radio stations nationwide from Thursday, January 29 through Wednesday, February 4. You’ll also be able to hear and download the program online at www.speakingoffaith.org, where you’ll find broadcast locations and times.