Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bernice Eisenstein's graphic memoir

I attended a gallery opening with my friend Roni this weekend, and said hello to her friend Bernice Eisenstein, a local writer whom I'd like to introduce to you.

I was reminded of how moved I've been by Bernice's bittersweet illustrated memoir, "I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors." The highly evocative book tells the story of her parents, who survived Auschwitz.

It's also about Bernice, who examines her need to know them by entering a part of their life that they resisted describing.

If you share Bernice's family history, are interested in the triumph of the spirit after unimaginable tragedy, or want to pass on this knowledge to a younger generation, Jewish or not, born after some of the most memorable voices have been stilled by age, I recommend this book.


The darkness of her parents' story is tempered by her account of how, resettled in Toronto, they and other family members built a new life. They would gather to feast and toast, L'chaim.

When I saw Bernice read a festival last year (sharing the stage with the sublime graphic novelist Ben Katchor), her aunt rose from the audience during the Q & A and said, "This is a very brave book".

I agree, a brave and beautiful book.

7 comments:

WendyB said...

I need to pick this up.

Duchesse said...

Wendy: Available from Amazon. Nearly everyone I've given it to has loved it except for one person who found it "so dark."

La Belette Rouge said...

I love the combination of the whimsy of the illustration style with the gravitas of the story. And, "so dark" is something I often enjoy. Light can be found in the depths.

Anjela said...

Last year, I was reading a book by Irene Nemirovsky and you had mentioned another book by her that I hadn't read but, picked it up next time I went out. Because of that, many of the people I know have been introduced to her. Thank you. This sounds like a really interesting read. I can totally understand why she wanted to find out exactly what her parents felt though their experience.
Will let you know what I think!

Anjela said...

wendyb
I am not sure how I know of you but many moons ago I left a message on Marie Claire in response to reading your story.
I love your line and one day hope to have it in my store.
You are amazingly creative and strong human.
Sorry to take up the space Duchesse but, it is such a small world.

Duchesse said...

Anjela: Please post away on the Comments, it's wonderful you've connected with Wendy!

Anjela said...

I ordered the book today! Thanks for opening my eyes to new things- new beautiful items and places and clothes and people who live between the pages and beyond this screen ...Thanks....