Story is the essence of the identity of every human being. At birth, we enter a story already made for us and until the story is shattered it is our destiny. Eventually, death, war, accident, bankruptcy or earthly disaster shatters our personal story and we must create a new one to give our lives meaning. This book is the chronicle of one man's progress out of his family's story, through various accidents of life to the meeting of a good woman who helped lead him to storytelling. they devoted the rest of their lives to each other and to their craft. The remainder of the book narrates the arduous path the author took in his career. At the end of the book, the author's life-narrative is shattered by his wife's death. Once again, he must make up a new story—the story of living alone.
An aged storyteller attempts to retrieve his beloved wife after her accidental fall and her journey through the dark corridors of American medical bureaucracy that led to her death. His quest continues as he confronts the onerous details involved in the administration of that death. To his surprise, the song of his lament turns joyful as he recalls their discovery of one another, the blossoming of their love, and the details of their happy life together. In the darkness of death and bright light of his memories, he slowly invents appropriate ceremonies to celebrate the woman who illuminated his life. His song only ends when he deposits her ashes and discovers that she remains alive within him.
By Bill Broder
A Fictional Journey into
the Past on Two Novellas
As it might have been recounted
by the author’s great-uncle,
for whom he was named
History Shaped by the Small Battles of Hearth, Friendship, and Love
“Two Russian Bicycles” consists of two curiously related novellas prophetic of the future course of Russian and world history. Both, based on historical fact, reveal how the small battles of the hearth, friendship, and love shape history and underlie the effort to remain human in times bedeviled by a brutal destiny.
“Tolstoy’s Wife” depicts Sonya Tolstoy’s struggle for the love of her husband, Leo Tolstoy—a struggle intimately shaped by her belief in the values that inform Tolstoy’s great novels. She contends with Tolstoy's fear of death and his longing for salvation that drive him to abandon his fiction and become, in her eyes, a "second-rate" prophet of a primitive Christianity. Tolstoy's devoted daughter, Sasha, and his Christian disciple, Doctor Kholkov, join forces to wrest the copyright for Tolstoy's great works from Sonya in order to donate their proceeds to “the people.” Although all the characters act for the highest of motives, their lives are warped by their uncompromising natures. Doctor Kholkov's aborted courtship of Sasha, Sasha's ambivalent relationship to her mother and her enslaving devotion to her father form a moving undercurrent in the tale.
“The Sphynx of Kiev” focuses on the importance of Lenin's character and personal life in shaping the distinctive properties of the two Russian Revolutions at the beginning of the twentieth century. The events take place in Geneva and London at the moment when Lenin forged the foundation for the Bolshevik Party to counter democratic tendencies among his socialist revolutionary peers. The novella dramatizes Lenin's marriage, the break-up of his longstanding friendship and revolutionary partnership with Martov, and the disillusionment of a young follower as Lenin turns to a brutal repression of all ideological enemies within the movement.
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The THANKSGIVING TRILOGY, a fifty year saga, follows a group of friends who left their blood families in the East and formed close relationships in the San Francisco Bay Area – a family formed in exile, as it were. The annual reunion of this “family” takes place at Thanksgiving dinners – a practice of many groups of exiles in the West. Each novel is complete in itself and could be published alone. Although the lives and relationships of the characters are paramount in the work, the three books present a portrait of the human and historical dilemmas in our country for half a century. American literature has long thrived on mining the specific regions that have contributed to the American ethos.
The drama of the book follows a voyage of the author from his home as he leaves his widowed mother and all that she demands. As he revisits his family on important occasions, he carries on a life-long dialogue, often an argument, with his mother about the differences in their lives. From her he learns about her early years and those of his father and how those experiences shaped their lives and the lives of their siblings. His grandmother’s Old World preference for her sons profoundly affected his mother and his aunt, robbing them of the self-confidence their talents merited. His father’s early death leaves the author to deal with his mother’s hysteria when his older brother marries out of the faith. Later, a dead uncle reaches out with a posthumous gesture of affection by entrusting the author with a legacy for delivery to a nurse with whom his uncle fell in love years before on the World War II battlefields of Italy. The book ends when the author returns as a middle-aged man to express his love and appreciation for his mother and her generation as she declines into dementia and her life’s end.
Broder has written the book in the tradition of the Jewish prayer for the dead, the Kaddish. Death is the occasion to celebrate the lives of those who have died and to demonstrate gratitude for all life. His book aims to remind readers of the values, love and conflicts of a 20th century Jewish-American family. “The failure of memory,” Broder says, “puts the future in peril.” Broder intends his book, “A Prayer for the Departed,” to be for readers of all ages, who appreciate the importance of the past, family lore and dramatic presentation of characters through their domestic struggles.
“A Prayer for the Departed: Tales of a Family through the Decades of the Last Century” is available for sale online at Amazon.com and other channels.