annette-grandpa-on-tractor-1971-croppedThe Tractor
Thread, May 31, 2016
When I walk through our woods in northwestern Indiana, especially the barren woods at the end of winter, I see my eight-year-old self again, helping my grandfather clear out tree trunks on my grandparents’ property in Michigan. {link to essay}

1gra-1501-bella-grace-winter-2015_5-600x600Capture Magic That Hangs by a Gossamer Thread
Bella Grace, Winter 2015
What could be more mundane, more ordinary than acres of woods and meadow in flat northwestern Indiana?

On Not Reading a Book
Washington Independent Review of Books, February 19, 2015
I didn’t read the book for the December meeting of the Memoir Workshop I teach at StoryStudio Chicago. If the instructor doesn’t read the assigned book, that’s pretty bad, right? {link to essay}

Fatal West Bank Stabbing Hits Close to Home
Tablet Magazine, November 13, 2014
In Chicago, news of the murder of at 25-year-old Israeli woman reverberates. {link to essay}

An American Mother Visits Israel on a Mission
Tablet Magazine, July 10, 2014
Sirens wail at 7:19 p.m. I grab my keys and phone, and text my husband in Chicago: “Sirens over Tel Aviv.” {link to essay}

Can a Jew Love Christmas Music?
Tablet Magazine, December 24, 2013
As soon as Thanksgiving dinner is over, it seems, the onslaught of Christmas music begins, assaulting unsuspecting ears across America—at the grocery store, the pharmacy, and even the gas pump. {link to essay}

Kol Nidre Showed Me What It Means to Truly Belong in the Jewish Community
Tablet Magazine, September 12, 2013
On Yom Kippur two years ago, I sat in synagogue, trying to come up with a pithy slogan for Smith Magazine’s six-word memoir challenge: What’s the essence of Jewish life in six words? {link to essay}

grillparzer-strasse-5-photo-from-june-2009‘Thrown Out’ of the Family Home
Wall Street Journal, July 5, 2013
There is a house I long for and yet have never set foot in. {link to story}

Giving Up Christmas
Tablet Magazine, December 19, 2012
When people hear that I converted to Judaism, the first question they ask is, “Don’t you miss Christmas?” {link to story}

the-boxThe Box–A Mantra for the Writers’ Workshop
Writing on the Edge, Fall 2011
Silence would seep into the room, crossed legs would swing, papers would be shuffled whenever it came to giving manuscript feedback in my MFA workshops. {link to story}

Waiting in the Dark
Prime Number Magazine, July 2011
On the third day, they move Harry, my husband, to a private room. We return from his smoking break to find we have a different view. {link to story}

Betty Crocker in Bavaria
Natural Bridge, Summer 2010
Building a new life is never a clear-cut undertaking. You might live somewhere else from what you consider your native soil, in a different country even. {link to story}

The White World
Kaleidoscope, Winter/Spring 2010
The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about my visits to Tante Herta in her nursing home in Wiesbaden, Germany, is the color white. {link to story}

Bellevue Literary Review, Spring 2007, nominated for a Pushcart Prize
When I think of you, I see railroad tracks tracing silver lines through a bluish black night. {link to story}

Images Past and Present
Under the Sun, 2006
Camel-colored houses seam the side street. Now and then a store front in coral red, dark brown, or mind green breaks up the monotony. Above a shop sign featuring a faded pear, a window is wide open, a bowl of dough set out to bask in the sun. […] My brother Klaus and I are visiting Liberec, a city one hour north of Prague. It was our grandparents’ hometown and used to be called Reichenberg. {link to story}

Paris – Dans La Rue
South Loop Review, 2005
When I lived in Germany, I visited Paris every year. The nonchalance of the city was liberating. {link to story}

A Room of His Own
Flashquake, Summer 2004
republished in A Cup of Comfort for Couples, 2010
My husband’s room is at the back of our apartment next to the kitchen. How many times have I walked by and wanted to haul out his clutter and hurl it into the trash? {link to story}

Choosing Preschool Instead of a Nanny
Parent to Parent, Spring 2013
Don’t get me wrong. Nannies are wonderful. My children had to great nannies. […] But there comes a point when parents wonder whether it’s time for preschool. {link to article}

A Preschool Teacher’s Tips on How to Ease Separation Anxiety
Parent to Parent, Fall 2012
“Fake it until you make it.” {link to article}

Teachers Tips to Ease the Transition to First Grade
Parent to Parent, Fall 2011
“So much about school is about being comfortable.” {link to article}

‘Ambassadors’ Bring Israel to Akiba-Schechter
JUF News, February 2010
“Each of us is a small light, together we shine so bright.” In big red and yellow letters, this slogan recently graced the front hallway at Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day School in Chicago. {link to article}

How to Volunteer When You’re Crazy Busy
Chicago Parent, Making the Grade, January 2010
Three years ago, I became board president of my children’s elementary school, a role that was never on my list of lifetime goals. {link to article}

Is My Story Dramatic Enough?
May 30, 2014, Washington Independent Review of Books
“All these stories are so dramatic! Where is the drama in mine?” {link to essay}

Writing About Others
October 3, 2013, Washington Independent Review of Books
Writing about real people is probably the No. 1 issue writers of personal stories, whether memoir, personal essay or newspaper column, worry about {link to essay}

It’s OK to Lie in Memoir
April 23, 2013, Washington Independent Review of Books
If memoir is the genre of truth, how could it possibly be acceptable to lie? Wasn’t James Frey fried because he lied? And yet, I venture to say that it is indeed OK to lie in memoir. {link to essay}

What is Memoir?
March 20, 2013, Washington Independent Review of Books
Memoir is the genre du jour, the one people talk about, get upset about, or want to write themselves. Memoir is such a buzz word that it gets slapped on personal stories, whether applicable or not. {link to essay}

The Privilege of Teaching Memoir
November 6, 2012, Washington Independent Review of Books
When I mention that I teach memoir writing, I often get the reaction, “You must hear a lot of heavy stuff.” {link to essay}

I regularly review memoirs for the Jewish Book Council:

Sheymes, A Family Album after the Holocaust, by Elizabeth Wajnberg
“Usually when you tell a story it is over,” Elizabeth Wajnberg reminds herself, taking heart when her parents share an­other detail of surviving the Holocaust. Her memoir Sheymes—A Family Album After the Holocaust, however, shows this is not always so. {link to review}

My Old Neighborhood Remembered, by Avery Corman
With a title like My Old Neighborhood Remembered, Avery Corman’s memoir about growing up in the Bronx of the 1940s and ‘50s could be saccharine; instead, it is evocative, bringing stores, schools, and streets back to life, remembering people and the way they lived, relat­ing personalities and buildings and what became of them. {link to review}

A Semite, by Denis Guénoun
Denis Guénoun compiled this biographical sketch of his father, René Guénoun, by relying on his own memories and digging through several boxes of family documents and corre­spondence. {link to review}

Things I Don’t Want to Know, by Deborah Levy
Deborah Levy’s memoir, Things I Don’t Want to Know, is a carefully wrought work of art. {link to review}

Leaving Russia, by Maxim D. Shrayer
Maxim D. Shrayer’s stunning memoir Leaving Russia is an engaging story of growing up as the son of Jewish intellectuals in Moscow who applied for emigration when he was ten to give him a future as a Jew. {link to review}

My Crazy Century, by Ivan Klíma
The 500 pages covering internment in the Nazi concentration camp Terezín and persecution under the Communist regime of Czech writer Ivan Klíma’s memoir My Crazy Century could be intimidating, but they aren’t. {link to review}

Shocked: My Mother, Schiaparelli and Me, by Patricia Volk
Patricia Volk’s Shocked does what only the best memoirs do: It prompts us to examine our own lives. {link to review}

I regularly interview authors of memoir:

Interview with Sarah Wildman, Paper Love
January 15, 2015, The Prosen People, Jewish Book Council
Sarah Wildman’s Paper Love: Searching for the Girl My Grandfather Left Behind, her story of looking for the woman her grandfather left behind, is a page turner. {link to interview}

Interview with Gillian Marchenko, Sun Shine Down
June 30, 2014, Washington Independent Review of Books
Gillian Marchenko’s spare and lyrical memoir, Sun Shine Down, tells the story of her coming to terms with her third daughter being born with Down syndrome while the family was living in Ukraine. {link to interview}

Interview with Glen Finland, Next Stop
May 22, 2014, Washington Independent Review of Books
What happens when a child with special needs ages out of the education system? {link to interview}

Interview with Selby Fleming McPhee, Love Crazy
January 7, 2014, Washington Independent Review of Books
Love Crazy provides a unique, engaging and entertaining experience of one couple’s journey from the Roaring ’20s to the sobering ’40s and beyond. {link to interview}

Interview with Publisher Ken Ackerman, Horse Radish
December 26, 2013, Washington Independent Review of Books
Reading Rachel Farber’s Horse Radish feels as if you were turning on that old crackling transistor radio and listening into the past. {link to interview}

Interview with Susannah Conway, This I Know
July 23, 2013, Washington Independent Review of Books
In This I Know, Susannah Conway tells her story of bereavement and her journey through grief, and yet it is not a sad book, but rather a most inspiring one. {link to interview}

Interview with Rebecca McClanahan, The Tribal Knot
July 16, 2013, Washington Independent Review of Books
In her memoir The Tribal Knot, Rebecca McClanahan did what many of us wish to do – to do something with all those family memorabilia and documents that are tucked away in closets and trunks. {link to interview}

Q&A with Leslie Maitland, Crossing the Borders of Time
March 13, 2013, Washington Independent Review of Books
Leslie Maitland’s Crossing the Borders of Time is a story that is too good to be true: a saga of escape and survival and of star-crossed lovers, separated by the Holocaust and family intervention. {link to interview}

Q&A with Wenguang Huang, The Little Red Guard
October 4, 2012, Washington Independent Review of Books
In a country where cremation is mandatory, the narrator’s grandmother insists on a traditional burial and persuades his father to build a coffin, in this memoir of an ordinary Chinese family during Mao’s Cultural Revolution. {link to interview}

Q&A with Sara Mansfield Taber, Born Under an Assumed Name
July 24, 2012, Washington Independent Review of Books
In her memoir Born under an Assumed Name, Sara Mansfield Taber explores what it means to be American. Born in Japan, her early childhood is spent on the colorful streets of late 1950s and early 1960s Taiwan, where her father works for the CIA. {link to interview}

Q&A with Tracy Crow, Eyes Right
June 5, 2012, Washington Independent Review of Books
In the late ’70s, Tracy Crow joined the Marine Corps, not quite sure what she was signing up for. While she couldn’t, as a woman, serve in a combat unit, she nevertheless fought during her entire 10 years as a Marine, primarily to prove herself. {link to interview}

our-chicago-cover-pageOur Chicago—Eleven Writers on Their City

Inspired by Aleksandar Hemon’s essay “Reasons Why I Do Not Wish to Leave Chicago,” eleven Chicago writers explore what their city means to them. The result is a collection of highly individual, sometimes poignant, sometimes funny, list essays on this city, accompanied by photos. Edited by Annette Gendler