LILA HALPRIN's Southern Gothic Tale About a Northern Jew
I once had the privilege of hearing Holocaust survivor, Nobel Laureate and best selling author, Elie Wiesel, speak at Boston University. Although deeply moved by him, I found myself, even many years later, still turning over certain questions: What would it be like, to be this man’s child? Where might one end up… working in a record store? Being a pharmacist? Becoming an organic farmer? These and other nagging questions were the spark that ignited my novel, Lila Halprin’s Southern Gothic Tale About a Northern Jew, a work of upmarket, literary fiction of 80,000 words.
Lila Halprin has barricaded herself inside a world of making art, which can happen when a person has both talent and trauma in her life. She is estranged from her mother, a character inspired by both Elie Wiesel and Boston politician, Tip O’Neill. In fact, 19 years earlier, Lila Halprin walked out on her family in Boston: her famous mother, her loving husband and her infant son.
Now living in New Orleans, an environment as different from her northern Jewish roots as she could find, Lila has built herself an elaborate hideout through making art. And she keeps her past a carefully guarded secret so that even her closest friend, Georgia, doesn’t know. That is, until Lila’s past comes down south looking for her.
When Lila learns from a news broadcast of her estranged mother’s death, the vivid but tenuous escape Lila built, finally unravels. Ultimately, she can’t hide from what she left behind, from the ties that bind mother and child, and from the bonds that continue to hold the Jewish people together. In the off-beat tradition of southern authors such as Flannery O’conner, John Kennedy Toole and Walker Percy, the tale Lila tells is a mystery about motherhood, a love letter to New Orleans, and a story about the power of art.
Click the link below to spend 65 seconds hearing a little more from Lila herself.
He Smells of Tomorrow and Moss
Punk rock - These words immediately call to mind acts of rebellion and passion we consider to be exclusively the prevue of youth. The Sex Pistols might have raged, Don’t know what I want but I know how to get it.... I want to be anarchy, but sometimes a little anarchy is needed to address that precarious transition in a woman's life, when even the most carefully charted course can’t thwart nature: children leaving home, aging parents and menopause.
Susannah, 51 and divorced, finds she’s been drifting along in the same murky pool as so many other disgruntled middle aged women. This is certainly not the life trajectory she had envisioned for herself during her punk rock youth. Until she meets Hugo, online, and what begins as a one night stand, sweeps Susannah out into an unusual current: a sexually adventurous affair that ultimately leads her back to her elderly mother and her family.
“He smells of tomorrow and moss. Like if time had a smell in tendrils that defied containment, and humanity had a smell that could be made tangible. Like incoherent particles forming into mass. Mass, having weight, meaning a solid, meaning being, meaning dirt, meaning soil. He smells of a kind of rawness and humanity so pungent and fertile it makes her want to claw in that dirt with her bare hands to plant bulbs and grow vegetables.”