The Case of Alice Sebold

I’ve been dwelling on the case of Alice Sebold (author of the beautiful novel The Lovely Bones) and the trial of her accused rapist. I wrote about her memoir Lucky here: [P]lucky to Survive The book was structured in essentially two parts. Part one is about Sebold’s rape as a college sophomore and her resulting trauma. Part two is about the rape trial. When I wrote my earlier post I latched onto the opening rape scene because I was reading memoirs with the eye of a writer who wanted to write a memoir. I ignored the rest of the book. A reason, though, was that I felt confused by the book and also found the trial section icky, but I failed to analyze it enough.

Now, it turns out, the man she had identified as her rapist is innocent. Talk about gobsmacked. Anthony Broadwater, the man who went to prison and has now been exonerated, seems to have suffered because he was a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time. You can read about Sebold’s apology here: Alice Sebold Apologizes

I have some thoughts about this matter. My heart goes out to Anthony Broadwater for the ruination of his life and his reputation. I can’t even imagine what his life has been like or how it felt every day knowing he didn’t deserve what was happening. In articles, he sounds like a very balanced, kind man. Can you even imagine what he went through all this time? It seems just BEYOND.

Another aspect is that a lot of writers and others have been quick to condemn Sebold.  But remember she went through a horrific and terrorizing experience where she thought she would die and was never given proper support afterward. She was young and the rape must have damaged her emotionally. Then she had only the police and prosecutor to rely on. They were hell-bent on getting a conviction and manipulated the situation. She must have been like putty for their purposes.

To me, this is one of those horrific tragedies that happen in life where so many issues converge. There are innocents, like Broadwater, and bad actors, like the prosecution. Then there is Sebold, a victim of a horrible tragedy herself. Is she guilty of a travesty against Broadwater? Or is she being victimized all over again by people who were quick to denounce her?

When Sebold saw Broadwater on the street and thought he was the rapist, she was operating under a problem that everyone in the world operates under. Cross-racial identification is known to be very problematic. At least, we know that today. That wasn’t the case in 1982. I’m not sure how to solve this, but it needs solving so that we can trust identification of criminals. I do understand the phenomenon, though. We see the details that identify individuals more clearly in people we are most used to seeing. So if we come from a white family, we are best at identifying white individuals, etc.  I think we can all get better at this, but it takes being around people of all races! So is Sebold responsible for pointing out the wrong man or a victim of a natural phenomenon? Both?

Ugh, I hate situations like this. It’s so much easier when there are clear bad guys and good guys. Please help me organize my thoughts on this matter. What do you think?

What is clear to me is that a grave injustice was done to Anthony Broadwater. And all of us who read Sebold’s memoir were made complicit in it.

***

I made my first mini junk journal last week. The video is a minute and a half and shows all the pages inside the journal, if you’re interested. The project was to put my “stamp” of authenticity on it. I feel like I did that.

 

***

I will leave you with Perry to start your week. By the way, you know what my mother said the other day? That Perry looks like a rat!!! What kind of Grandma says that?! Sigh. More like a ferret or possum? In the following 6 second video, Perry learns that in the “Mouse for Cats” video game when he catches a mouse it squeaks.

NOW you will have a good week!

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70s Fashion Skirt

I’ve been remembering wrap-around skirts. If you’re from my era, you probably remember them. They were large circles of cloth, open on one side. You wrapped the cloth around yourself and tied, buttoned, or buckled it at the waist. The overlap was in the back, so you had to keep smoothing the back of the skirt to make sure part of it wasn’t stuck up on the cloth underneath.  If you don’t know what I mean and do a google search you will find a lot of skirts that end in the front, but I remember around 1970 ours were always ending in the back, like in this image.

These skirts were very easy to sew because you didn’t have to worry about fit. But they did tend to accentuate what we called a stick-out butt, which I had. I sure hated that feature, never knowing it would come into fashion when I no longer had it hahaha.

I am planning to make my daughter a junk journal for her wedding. I haven’t made a bound journal before, so I experimented by making a bound version to use for my regular arty junk journaling. I took an old adolescent lit textbook (I used to teach it to college students who were in the secondary ed program) and took out the “signatures” inside. Signatures are groups of sheets folded in half that are put into the binding as a unit. Each book is comprised of several signatures. Then I decorated the cover with old fabrics from my teen years, buttons from Grandma’s collection, and some doodads I found. I created three signatures of about 7 folded pages and bound these signatures into the cover.

For the wedding journal I got the idea of knitting a cover for it, and Marie Bailey at 1WriteWay gave me a lot of help. I haven’t knitted since I made a basketweave baby blanket for my son ahemahem years ago!

Make it a good, safe, productive, and peaceful week!

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“The Gamemaster and the Reluctant Daughter” Published by Rind Literary Magazine

The editors at Rind Literary Magazine have published my creative nonfiction piece, “The Gamemaster and the Reluctant Daughter,” in the new issue, #15. You can find it, beginning on page 33, here:

RIND: AN ONLINE LITERARY MAGAZINE, ISSUE 15

I hope you enjoy the story. Again, it relates very closely to the memoir I am working on.

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Our bobcat, as seen through the window.

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My positive hopeful plans for 2022 include making my daughter a wedding junk journal, which she’s excited about. I am collecting pretty little scraps and ephemera for that. Then I joined the Ugly Art Club, and I’ll see how that goes. Also, I want to study drawing faces a bit. And I need to get the publisher all the pieces for the poetry book. I really need my headshots retaken. I don’t like the last ones, except the accidental one of me holding Perry. (Should I just use that?) And, finally, I will be attending a special workshop at the Tucson Festival of Books for my memoir. I’m working on a collection of Red Riding Hood poems. So we’ll see how the year goes. Lots of plans. We’ll see what God has in store for me heh.

What are you planning for yourself this new year? Go get 2022!!!!

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3 Poems Up at Furious Gazelle and More Writing News

Hope everyone who celebrates Christmas had a lovely one. My daughter’s in-laws had us over for an Italian Christmas feast, including gluten free versions for the gardener.  We had a wonderful time, needless to say.

I had some minor good news the other day. An excerpt of my unpublished memoir Scrap was a finalist in the Tucson Festival of Books Literary Awards. Woot! That feels like a step in the right direction for this project that has been in in the works since 2008 hahaha.

Coincidentally, on Christmas Eve, the journal Furious Gazelle published three poems, and these poems all relate to material found in Scrap. A big thank you to the editors.

You can read them here:

3 POEMS AT FURIOUS GAZELLE

In this photo my father is on our left and his twin brother is on our right. They look like they belong in an Our Gang movie, and it’s true they were raised by the streets as much as by their mother or sister.

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A Plea for the Animals

In this festive season, it’s good to remember those in need. In this case, I want to remind us about the pets in Afghanistan, specifically those cared for by the Kabul Small Animal Rescue.  American Charlotte Maxwell-Jones is a veterinarian who runs the dog and cat rescue in Kabul. When Afghanistan fell, she was at the airport in Kabul with her animals in kennels, ready to leave. But the U.S. military would not take a single one of her animals. She was clinging to a special needs dog as they left Charlotte at the airport with her furry charges.

She’s such a hero, it makes me teary just to write about her. Well, Charlotte has continued to do what she does. Some of the dogs that were left at the airport were taken over by the Taliban. Charlotte’s rescue now sees to the care of those dogs, making sure they have safe sleeping quarters, food, and medical care. She also still takes care of all the other rescue animals that have made it to her shelter. Now she has organized evacuation flights for the dogs and cats for January 2022. They are taking the animals to Dubai (for now–maybe they will end up in Canada). Her fundraising goal to accomplish this is $400,000. She’s not even at the halfway point yet. PLEASE can you help her to help these animals she has devoted her life to?

DONATE FOR THE EVACUATION FLIGHTS

Topol, pictured below, is one of the dogs who will be leaving Afghanistan.

Please make it a HAPPY NEW YEAR for these animals!

 

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Calmer Girls: a Book Review by Luanne Castle — Jennifer’s Journal

Happy Monday, everyone! I’m thrilled to see that my debut novel, Calmer Girls, has been reviewed by American writer and poet, Luanne Castle, on Goodreads and Amazon. This is something that never gets old for an author, and is especially appreciated when such a sparkling review is from an esteemed writer like Luanne. Have a […]

Calmer Girls: a Book Review by Luanne Castle — Jennifer’s Journal

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A Plea for the Animals

In this festive season, it’s good to remember those in need. In this case, I want to remind us about the pets in Afghanistan, specifically those cared for by the Kabul Small Animal Rescue.  American Charlotte Maxwell-Jones is a veterinarian who runs the dog and cat rescue in Kabul. When Afghanistan fell, she was at the airport in Kabul with her animals in kennels, ready to leave. But the U.S. military would not take a single one of her animals. She was clinging to a special needs dog as they left Charlotte at the airport with her furry charges.

She’s such a hero, it makes me teary just to write about her. Well, Charlotte has continued to do what she does. Some of the dogs that were left at the airport were taken over by the Taliban. Charlotte’s rescue now sees to the care of those dogs, making sure they have safe sleeping quarters, food, and medical care. She also still takes care of all the other rescue animals that have made it to her shelter. Now she has organized evacuation flights for the dogs and cats for January 2022. They are taking the animals to Dubai (for now–maybe they will end up in Canada). Her fundraising goal to accomplish this is $400,000. She’s not even at the halfway point yet. PLEASE can you help her to help these animals she has devoted her life to?

DONATE FOR THE EVACUATION FLIGHTS

Topol, pictured below, is one of the dogs who will be leaving Afghanistan.

Please make it a HAPPY NEW YEAR for these animals!

 

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My Review of Julia’s Violinist by Anneli Purchase and Note from the Author

While I rarely write about fiction, I do read a fair amount of the genre. Today I am sharing a review of a unique novel by blogger Anneli Purchase.

The engrossing story Julia’s Violinist, by Anneli Purchase, shows destruction by war through the eyes of one woman and her family. Julia is a Sudeten German, living with three million other ethnic Germans in what is now the Czech Republic. When Hitler’s Germany is defeated, suddenly Julia’s people are vulnerable. At the start of the story, Julia is a young widow with two daughters. Because she is a German woman amongst the Czechs, she is immediately thrust into danger. The Czech military wants to rid the country of the Germans, so they herd them into barracks where they are starved and many women raped. Julia manages to stay with her daughters, her parents, and one sister in the holding facility. She stays strong for the sake of the others, especially her daughters. Eventually Julia and her family move to Germany and from there to Canada.

Before I read this novel, I did not know about Sudetenland or Sudeten Germans, so I knew nothing of their plight when, first they were taken over by the Czechs after WWI, and then their country became Czechoslovakia after WWII. I had assumed that what is now the Czech Republic was always peopled by mainly Czechs. In a similar vein, until more recent years, although my maternal grandmother’s people emigrated from Prussia, I did not realize that Prussia was in what is now Poland or that all the ethnic Germans in Prussia were made to leave their homes after WWII. Their experience was similar to that of the Sudeten Germans.  I have discovered that my accountant was a Sudeten German toddler when his family was made to live in refugee camps, just as Julia lived in the barracks, with little food. He told me that he did not have enough to eat at that age and that it affected his health.

Julia’s Violinist threads a love story throughout the historical tale. Although the story is not chronological, it is told in clearly-identified sections, so it is very easy to understand. This structure places the reader immediately in the dangerous world of post WWII, but then goes back in time to before the war, a time when Julia was just maturing and falling in love with Michael, a violinist, who also loves her. But his father dies as they are to begin courting, and Michael has to take over the family bakery. He has no time for dating. Julia’s life goes off in another direction when she marries and has children. But Michael will come back into her life. Read the book to find out what happens with the star-crossed lovers and to follow the twists and turns in the lives of Julia and her children.

Characters are so well-drawn. Julia is a very likable woman. She’s heroic, but also very human. Some of her decisions can be second-guessed, but considering her circumstances, they are understandable. I particularly admire the development of the complex and less-than-heroic character of Karl. I found myself trying to analyze him as if he were someone I knew in real life. When I finished reading the story, I felt as if I had to leave behind a hometown or community.

Although this is a minor point, the editing of Julia’s Violinist is impeccable, making it a special pleasure to read. Since Anneli Purchase is a professional editor, this makes sense. I am often sidetracked when reading by typos that I can spot at thirty paces, but this book is a smooth read. My deep involvement with the characters and their stories wasn’t broken by distractions.

Whenever I read a book from the perspective of someone from an overlooked group, I learn so much–and this novel is no exception.  I feel privileged to have “met” Julia and her family.

GREAT NEWS. Anneli Purchase is offering a 99 cent sale on Julia’s Violinist and all her other books until the end of December.

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I asked Anneli if she would please talk a bit about Julia’s Violinist. What she told me seems to explain why this book feels so important and so close to the heart of the writer.

When I was growing up, I often helped my mother in the kitchen. As we cooked and baked, my mother talked about “the old days” and I asked her many questions. She told me how the southeast part of Germany she lived in (Sudetenland) suddenly came under Czech rule with the stroke of a pen at the end of WWI. Three million Germans were to be ruled by a Czech government. When WWII came along, these people had hoped to shed the yoke of the oppressors, but as we all know, for better or worse, Germany lost the war.

As a child, I thought that this amazing story was one that happened only to my mother, that she and her family were the only ones who were driven out of their homes. But as I grew up and learned more about history, I realized that this was far more widespread than I had imagined. After the war, with the blessing of the Allies, the victors, especially the Czechs and Russians who had scores to settle, swarmed through Sudetenland, killing and raping thousands, and driving them out of their land.

Before, during, and after these atrocities were committed, the story of Julia takes shape. She is one person, but various versions of her story happened to hundreds of thousands at that time, and therefore, it needed to be told.

The story is fictional, but it is based on a lot of research, and while the personal story of Julia cannot be verified, I have tried to stay true to the historical facts as they happened then, hopefully without prejudice.

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Anneli Purchase has lived and taught in various parts of British Columbia, including the Queen Charlotte Islands and Vancouver Island where she works as an author and a freelance copy-editor. Her articles on coastal life have appeared in Canadian and UK magazines. She has published five novels (The Wind Weeps and its sequel Reckoning Tide, Orion’s Gift, Julia’s Violinist, and Marlie).

Anneli with Emma (as a puppy)

Links

To find out more about Anneli’s novels, you can visit her website:

www.anneli-purchase.com

Anneli’s books will be on sale for 99 cents until the end of December. You can purchase Julia’s Violinist at amazon.com

If you don’t have a Kindle, you can go to smashwords.com for all types of e-reader formats.

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All the happiest or most peaceful or satisfying holidays to you!!!

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Two Poems Published by Saranac Review

In April 2019, I had two poems accepted by the Saranac Review.  Then crickets. All through that year and then the first year of the pandemic, also: nothing from them. I didn’t want to withdraw the poetry as I really wanted it published by SR, but I worried that they were struggling with problems, especially the “covid factor.”

Finally, as if by magic (hahahahaha), the issue has been published. And it’s gorgeous. I mean really gorgeous. It has very thick glossy pages, which makes it a wonderful coffee table journal. I don’t think you can see how great it is from the photos. You have to touch it. I am thankful that SR has published my poems in this beauty.

I’ve blurred out the last half of both my poems because I don’t think it’s thoughtful (to the journal) to post complete poems immediately upon publication in a print journal. But the poems will be in my new book (preorders in May 2022)!

Look at the details of this cover.

And here’s the back.

 

I got the idea for the poem “April Things” on an April drive to California from Arizona.

The second poem is about a subject that is threaded throughout my new poetry book, my maternal grandparents.

I have been having a difficult time in the last few weeks. Family and (annoying-type) health issues. Some holiday celebration changing. Worries about my daughter’s upcoming wedding (early February) with covid news. So I started doing a mixed media junk journal free “course” called #caredecember. It lasts 20 days and is about self-care as well as self-expression. In this stressful holiday season, I am focusing on staying in touch with nature and just “letting most of it go.” I’m wishing you all peace and love and kindness.

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My Essay Published by North Meridian Review

This news has been in process for some time, but I’m thrilled to share an essay I wrote about the loss of retail business, featuring my hometown Kalamazoo, Michigan. I am so thankful to editor Wesley R. Bishop and the journal North Meridian Review for publishing this essay. NMR is a super cool journal hosted by academics from several Indiana Universities and specializing in interdisciplinary scholarship, culture, and art.  In other words, NMR is a hybrid entity, straddling the creative and academic worlds.

“A Long Time from Burdick Street” is named thus because Burdick Street was an important artery for retail in days past–and still is the heart of the downtown. In fact, Kalamazoo was known for building the nation’s first outdoor pedestrian mall. Time changed, and eventually the downtown section of Burdick had to be reopened to traffic, but I grew up with the mall. Further south on Burdick Street my grandfather grew up–his family home and parents’ businesses were on Burdick–and he stayed there and raised his own family, running a Sunoco gas station at the corner of Burdick and Balch.

Disclosure: I used a fake name for the gardener because he’s such a private person. I keep changing his identity in my writing. Maybe he won’t be able to find himself that way. 😉

Here is a link to the issue–you can find my essay starting on page 104:

NORTH MERIDIAN REVIEW

My MIL painted the mall when the gardener and I were first going out. It had been commissioned by Irving Gilmore, of the department store family. She used to sit in her burnt orange Opel hatchback, painting. When she picked me up from work her car smelled like oil paints.

 

I’ve written in the past on this blog about the loss of retail: RIP Dreamland. At that time, I was focused on the loss of Marshall Field (“Field’s”) and shared a photo of the location of my family’s 19th century retail business in the Netherlands.

Hope you enjoy this new piece!

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