Happy Tuesday to you all!
I am pleased to participate in the “The Feet Say Run” Blog Tour with Author, Daniel A. Blum! If today’s post is any indication, this tour will be an entertaining one. Today, we will be discussing his latest release, a suspenseful literary fiction novel.
** A special ‘thank you’ to Dorothy Thompson for connecting with me and orchestrating this event. **
As always, enjoy……
The Feet Say Run Blog Tour Media Kit
When Your Mother Reads Your Sex-filled Novel
Many literary critics consider Hemingway’s, The Sun Also Rises to be his most important work. History has generally been kind to it. Hemingway’s mother, as it turns out, was rather less kind.
In a letter to her celebrated son, she offered the following, one-star review: “It is a doubtful honor to produce one of the filthiest books of the year …What is the matter? Have you ceased to be interested in nobility, honor and fineness in life? …. Surely you have other words in your vocabulary than ‘damn’ and ‘bitch’—Every page fills me with a sick loathing.”
Hemingway wote a lengthy reply, the general tone of which can be found in this excerpt. “I am sure the book is unpleasant. But it is not all unpleasant and I am sure is no more unpleasant than the real inner lives of some of our best Oak Park families…I am only ashamed of the book in whatever way it fails to really give the people I wished to present.”
“The Sun Also Rises,” is of course extremely tame by today’s standards. My first novel, Lisa33, is not. In fact, though I thought of it as sophisticated and ironic and tres avante-garde and though it was published by Viking, a prestigious name in the industry, I was so blushingly uncomfortable with the subject matter that I originally published it under a pseudonym. If only the worst words in were “damn” and “bitch”!
The mere thought of my own mother reading this atrocious little magnum opus set me sweating with anxiety. Hemingway’s mother, I can only imagine, would have died of a stroke.
I emailed my mother a copy of Lisa33 shortly after it was accepted by Viking. I counted the hours and days, all the while imagining what page, what twisted scene, she might be plodding through at every moment. Had she gotten yet to…that scene?!
A couple of days later the phone rang.
“Finished!” she said.
“And I loved it!”
Really??? She had really loved it? Even that description on page 47? What about page 126, with the touring troupe acrobats and the… Maybe I’d misheard. “You loved it? Really?”
“Really! It was great. My friends are going to get a huge kick out of this. I really loved it.”
Her friends??? A kick??? She loved it??? This was not the reaction I had expected. Yet in a way…it was equally uncomfortable. I tried to gather my thoughts. “‘Umm…Mom??? I don’t really need to know that you loved it. You could have just, ‘admired it’. Admiring would have been fine.”
My second novel, The Feet Say Run, presented a different sort of challenge. There was no crazy sex, thankfully. I had apparently said what I had to say on that topic. My new novel was “serious”, much of it set during World War II. Yet little bits of one’s life inevitably find their way into one’s writing. And in this book, the narrator’s mother, a wealthy German and a Hitler-admirer, bore an unmistakable similarity to my own mother.
What would she think this time??? My Mom is a Jewish mother from Long Island. She does photography and crosswords and plays the piano. And by some dark twist of imagination, I had turned her into a Nazi!
“Oh my God,” I kept thinking, as my mother was reading the book. “I turned my Jewish mother into a Nazi! I turned my Jewish mother into a Nazi! I cannot believe I did this! She is going to hate me forever!”
Once again, the dreaded phone call arrived.
Alas, she loved this book too. “Brilliant,” she said – which is how you praise “serious” books, books that are not dripping with sex on every page. I soaked in the adulation for a while, then started wondering if she would get around to the character of The Nazi Mother.
“You know,” she said at last, “I was really struck by how similar the father in the book is to your father.”
“Maybe….” I said, still full of apprehension. “There’s a similarity.”
“I could see it in the restaurant scene,” she said.
“I see what you mean,” I said. I held my breath. Was it coming now?
“Very well done, though,” she said.
That was it.
Thank you God! Thank you thank you thank you God! My mother had recognized my father. But, evidently…not herself.
“Glad you liked it,” I said. “So…it didn’t fill you with a sick loathing?”
“That’s what Hemingway’s mother said about, The Sun Also Rises. That it filled her with a sick loathing.”
“Well, I don’t know her, and she sounds very uptight. Besides, The Sun Also Rises is no, The Feet Say Run.”
How could I argue with that? Mothers know these things.
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About the Author
Daniel A. Blum grew up in New York, attended Brandeis University and currently lives outside of Boston with his family. His first novel Lisa33 was published by Viking in 2003. He has been featured in Poets and Writers magazine, Publisher’s Weekly and most recently, interviewed in Psychology Today.
Daniel writes a humor blog, The Rotting Post, that has developed a loyal following.
His latest release is the literary novel, The Feet Say Run.
WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:
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About the Book:
Title: THE FEET SAY RUN
Author: Daniel A. Blum
Publisher: Gabriel’s Horn Press
Genre: Literary Fiction
At the age of eighty-five, Hans Jaeger finds himself a castaway among a group of survivors on a deserted island. What is my particular crime? he asks. Why have I been chosen for this fate? And so he begins his extraordinary chronicle.
It would be an understatement to say he has lived a full life. He has grown up in Nazi Germany and falls in love with Jewish girl. He fights for the Germans on two continents, watches the Reich collapse spectacularly into occupation and starvation, and marries his former governess. After the war he goes on wildflower expeditions in the Alps, finds solace among prostitutes while his wife lay in a coma, and marries a Brazilian chambermaid in order to receive a kidney from her.
By turns sardonic and tragic and surreal, Hans’s story is the story of all of the insanity, irony and horror of the modern world itself.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
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It was early November. November 5, to be exact. 1938. I was with Hilda when we heard the news over the radio. A German diplomat had been shot. By a Jew. We’d never heard of this diplomat. Who had? But suddenly it was all over the news. This abominable act! Committed not just by a Jew. But, rather, by the Jews. This high crime! For a few days the diplomat clung to life. But the fury of the official broadcasts was astonishing. The demands for revenge. And then, on the day I had marked for my next visit with Sylvia, this obscure diplomat, now elevated to the level of a great personage, died of his wounds—martyred himself for the cause of all of us violated Germans.
Hilda and I just looked at one another.
“I think you need to get her out now,” Hilda said. And then, “If you’re going to do it.”
The wireless was broadcasting stories of rioting breaking out all over Germany. Anti-Jewish rage. Synagogues torched. Storefronts smashed. From inside Hilda’s apartment though, we heard nothing. It was like any other night. Would it really spread to our quiet little town?
I left for Sylvia’s before midnight. The crooked alleys in Hilda’s neighborhood were all calm. Maybe none of it was true. There were people out here and there, maybe more than usual —groups of threes and fours, mostly drawn out by the news, wondering what they would see. But it was a chilly night, and that seemed to keep people moving.
As I walked toward the river I could hear more voices. And then there was something. A lamp store. Brodsky’s Lamps and Lampshades. Smashed to ruins. Shards of glass everywhere. Just as the radio had described it. Why had it happened here though? What was this strange, magical connection between the radio and this pile of debris? Is that what it means to be a social species, that we will simply do what we believe others are doing? We hear words on the radio, people are destroying Jewish businesses, and like pre-programmed automatons, we interpret this message as an instruction?
I moved on, walked along old streets, under medieval arches, and out to the less ancient, less huddled part of town. Across all of it was a sort of crystalline quiet. A milkman’s wagon passed —the horse clopping and snorting. Along the next block I scared up a yard of chickens, startled myself with the sudden clucking and scattering. Peaceful Edelburg. My storybook town.
I was most of the way to Sylvia’s when I approached something again. A commotion. I drew closer. A crowd of figures, milling around a square, Vanderplatz. Watching something. Watching what? There were voices. Shouts. I approached. Peeked through a pair of shoulders. A man was being pushed by several men. They were shouting at him. Trying to get him to push back. He was older, had a frightened face, kept trying to back away, but there was always someone behind him, giving him another shove. His hair was disheveled. Beside them, on the ground, was a hat that had evidently been knocked off his head. What did they want from him?
A woman, who seemed to be his wife, was restrained by two other men. One had her arms. The other had a hand in her hair. She was crying, protesting. She wore a heavy coat that bunched in the neck as they pried her arms back. When she spoke, the hand in her hair drove her down lower, until at last she was on her knees, and drool was dripping from her mouth. Now the man protested the woman’s treatment, begged on her behalf, and this resulted in a fist hitting his stomach. He bent over, breathless, as other blows started to land on him.
What an unreal quality it had though. This one little act. This one droplet of cruelty amid the sea that seemed to be sweeping the country. You could even sense a kind of self-consciousness among the perpetrators. Acting out this bit of violence, getting themselves comfortable with it, acclimated to it, this act that they had heard was happening everywhere, trying this new thing out, yet having trouble identifying this old couple, these actual people, with the criminal Juden of the broadcasts.
And then, after the first blow, how much easier it seemed, the next punches coming so much more naturally, the hatred starting to feed on itself, the inner pleasure at inflicting pain. Yes! This was going to be a beautiful thing, this new violence! It was just a question of adjusting to it. That the victims were old and helpless, that there was nothing that they had actually done to deserve it that anyone could name—wasn’t that really part of the joy? Wasn’t that liberating in some way? Because if you could beat these people, punch their elderly faces and kick their sides, with all these others watching, doing nothing to stop it, didn’t that give you a kind of power, not merely over your victims, but over everybody, everything? Could you not take it even farther, see how far it could go?
There were maybe only six or seven young men actually involved in tormenting this couple, and maybe sixty or seventy watching silently. Many no doubt shocked, horrified, wishing it would stop. But silent as an audience watching a performance in a theatre. Silent as a group of schoolchildren watching a bully pick on someone smaller and weaker. Each thinking maybe now someone should stop this. It has gone on long enough. Someone should intercede. But who? How? Others just incorporating it. Accepting it. Who knew.
And then there was that awkward moment. That end without an end—the victims just lying there bloodied. The beating done. Only there was no curtain to lower upon the scene. And that lack of a proper ending seemed to reveal, even to the perpetrators, the pointlessness of what they had done. Did they just walk away? Bow to their audience? What? At last it occurred to one of them to spit on the couple. And then the others recognized the virtue of this, and added their spit. And their beads of spit landed like hateful, little exclamations points on their victims. And thus having found a suitable denouement, they turned away, headed off, whooping, breaking into some Nazi song—as though it were the final number in a musical.
Kristallnacht had come to Edelburg.
For a while the crowd stayed where it was, looked on at those two heaps of suffering, as though still expecting something more to happen. Wondering if it is over. Wondering if they should offer assistance, call the police, deposit their own spit. In the end though, they did none of these. Instead they just watched for a while more and wandered off, left to sort out their own thoughts.
I was one of the last to leave. I watched them stagger up. Alive. Moaning. I briefly caught the man’s eye. At least someone get him his hat, I thought. But I didn’t. I left. Just as the others had.
Just a few more blocks to Sylvia’s, and now I felt even more urgently the need to reach her. I was aware of forms passing this way and that. More than would normally have been out at that hour. I heard muffled voices. But it was difficult to see very much. The night was moonless. Who were they? It was hard to make out.
I waited across the street for a while, until it seemed there was nobody around. Then I slipped around the back of Sylvia’s house and tossed a pebble at the window. A moment later I was inside. I was in her arms. That same shocking nakedness through her nightgown. Pressed against her. We tiptoed up to her room, just as we had on my last visit. I undressed. Slipped into her bed. At first I was still seeing that scene at Vanderplatz that I had witnessed. That vignette. And then in another instant it was gone. As though a great wave came over consciousness itself, obliterating everything. Because how could this beautiful sensation and that horrid memory coexist? Or maybe I just willed it away. I just wanted the pureness of the moment. No past and no future. No words. Just the sensation, the great ocean-wave of desire, flooding everything. So that when the bed creaked it was as though reality itself had given us a little nudge. No, you cannot forget me. I am right outside. I am waiting for you.
Thank you so much for visiting with us today!! We’re grateful you stopped by! Please help me in supporting Daniel with likes, shares, and comments. You can also follow along with his awesome blog tour by clicking here.
Until next time………………Happy Reading & Reviewing!!