Sunday, December 03, 2006

Hey Pop, I'm in The Forverts!

Up Is Up, But So Is Down, the anthology that inspired my recent downtown memoir, received a rave review in Friday’s edition of the Jewish Daily Forward, which currently happens to be a weekly, despite the name. The paper, now published in English, was known in Yiddish, in the old days, as The Forverts. Reviewer Joshua Cohen graciously awarded me pride of place in his final paragraph:

The best last word here regarding such an intelligent and ironically lavish enshrining of an underground is supplied by Peter Cherches, a former performance artist and a downtown writer of fiction. At the end of his piece, Cherches writes of his relationship with a lover that might as well be mainstream, millennial New York : “We tried to put each other into words. But words weren’t enough. So we put each other into sentences. No good. Paragraphs. Unsatisfactory. Chapters. Not quite right. A book. Books. Volume upon volume upon volume. It just wouldn’t work. Nothing was enough, everything was too much.”

My maternal grandfather, Harry Posner, would be so proud. He was a religious reader of The Forverts, even if he wasn’t religious. My brothers and I called my grandfather “Pop,” and our grandmother, his wife, was “Gran.” Pop called Gran "Mama." Gran called Pop "Pop."

Gran’s maiden name was Annabelle Richmond, and she had a thick, almost brahminical Boston accent despite the fact that she, like Pop, was a Russian Jew. Gran had come to this country as a small child, and with that name and that voice you’d think she was D.A.R. She was a small, thin, gentle woman, and she never had a bad word for anyone, even when they deserved it.

Pop and Gran were night and day. Pop was a heavy man−he weighed about two hundred and fifty pounds for most of his life and he wasn’t at all tall. He spoke with a thick Russian-Jewish accent. Though I loved Pop, I remember him as a crabby, cantankerous old man who wouldn't hesitate to say a bad word about anyone, whether or not they deserved it. He had many enemies, but he was devoted to Gran.

Gran died in a nursing home, at the age of eighty-three, when I was thirteen. Pop died about a year later, 1970, at eighty-four. He just threw in the towel and stopped eating. With his wife gone he had lost the will to live. During those final months he always had a tear in his eye, and in his voice, and a memory about Gran, “a saint.” When Pop died he weighed ninety-eight pounds, about the same weight as Gran when she died.

Hey Pop, if you were alive today you’d be 120 years old, and I’m in The Forverts.


Blogger the chocolate lady said...

The paper, now published in English, was known in Yiddish, in the old days, as The Forverts.

The Forverts is stll published in Yiddish every week. The English edition is a separate newspaper (not a translation of the real forverts).

You can pick up the Yiddish forverts at the bookstore at 45 Esat 33rd and many local newsands. you can also read it online

10:42 PM  

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