Sunday, May 08, 2005

Novel Ideas

When I finish reading frum books (which is not often), I sigh and wonder why they never live measure up to the quality I'm used to. Then I think about the wide eyed children who only know of the libraries in basements of various shuls, children who only see a small sliver of reality. Books are supposed to be rich and vibrant, to transport you to another time and place, to offer a different perspective. Frankly, I can't think of a single frum novel that is up to par. And that's pathetic.

Look it's not my problem if people are ignorant enough to subject their youngsters to mental starvation. They're just perpetuating what they know. However, it amazes me that frum publishing companies turn out material that is so mediocre. The average gentile thinks of doctors and lawyers when he thinks of Jews. However much he may hate us, he reveres us. We're not a stupid people.

It's Targum Press, Feldheim and the rest of them that are the problem. They take for granted that they are the gateway to the frum population. After all, no one will read anything from the 'outside world' - and conveniently that qualifies as anything not published by them. Maveriks like Naomi Ragen are banned so that the audience would benifit most from her work doesn't even know her name.

That's where the internet comes in. Most people think that the rabbanim banned the internet because of porn, but I believe that's just a smoke screen. They fear freedom of knowledge and information much more. Pandora's box has been opened and there's no way to shut it. I'm sick of frum novels that sugar-coat reality. There are authors that slave away on beautiful novels, only to realize that they have to allow Feldheim to suck the life out of their works in order to get them published under a good name. It's sad, but what's worse is that it doesn't have to be.

Allow me to explain: Money and writing never have and never will go hand in hand in my world. For me writing is like breathing - it's just what I do. Getting paid for that makes no sense. Yeah, I could write and get my stuff published independantly, but that would defeat the purpose - to speak to those who need to hear what I've got to say. There are lots of people who's most important window is their computer screen. It's their little portal from which they curiously peak out into the universe. You know who you are.

I intend to take advantage of that and write my own novel, but in the form of a blog. I'm going to make a new one just for this. Each post will be approximately 1/3 of a chapter, and I'll turn them out as often as I can throughout the summer. Actually, I'll probably start as soon as I'm done with these darn finals. Anyway, I plan on having a lot of fun with it. It isn't going to - or even meant to be - the most profound thing in the world, but you're welcome to come along for the ride.

21 Comments:

Blogger Mindy said...

1. Brianna, have you ever read "Sun Inside Rain?" It's as close as you can possibly come to a secular novel, and it's so well written.

2. I've written a novel too. Only I can't publish it. Email me if you want to read it.

1:24 AM  
Blogger The Rabbi's Kid said...

Bri,

In many ways the frum velt is like Orwell's 1984. Keep spreading the gospel that there is an incredible world out there to discover.

I believe those who really wanna read will find a way to doing so. Local libraries, the internet, friends.

Maybe open up a parallel blog for your novel? Remember to copyright it. Look forward to reading it.

TRK

2:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To you, the whole Orthodox world is full of smoke-screens.

3:07 AM  
Anonymous enigma said...

Bri, did you ever read any "frum novels" that are published by secular publishers? I've heard that "Seven Blessings" by Ruchama King is particularly good, if you're interested.

By the way, I want to read your novel when you start writing it!

3:20 AM  
Blogger brianna said...

Mindy - I'll check out the book. And I'd love to read your novel.

TRK - Those who have the desire to look are already partially liberated. Oh, and the novel will definitely be on an alternate blog. How do you copyright things?

Anonymous - So then dismiss everything I say for all I care.

Enigma - Yeah, I have. Many of them are pretty good. But you won't find them on the shelves of frum libraries.

6:33 AM  
Blogger kishmech said...

Yair Weinstock and Chaim Eliav are the only ones worth reading and that's only because of Artscroll's great translators. I dooooo think thou has exaggerated ...... a lot. For a minute I thought this post was a parody of somebody whinging about the state of jewy literature......(I almost laughed...) it really isn't that bad. When I was a kid, I loved the Avner Gold books, Naomi Ragen and EXodus.

9:57 AM  
Blogger brianna said...

Kishmech, can you think of more than 10 frum books (published by frum publshing companies)that are worth reading? If not, I'm not exaggerating at all.

11:20 AM  
Blogger Mindy said...

Libby Lazewnik is an amazing author. I loved The Quest and The Judge. Ruthie Pearlman writes great crime mysteries, I loved all her books. Rochel (is it?) Pomerantz wrote Wildflower and Cactus Blossoms. They were great. Who wrote A Time To Rend A Time to Sew? It was awesome. I love Ruth Benjamin' stuff too (On A Golden Chain, Yesterday's Child). There was also a great recent book nmed Scattered Dreams, I dont remember the author's name. Unfortunately, quality jewish novels have not come out in a long, long time.

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your use of the word "benefit" is interesting.
Who is it that decides what is of benefit to people?

4:09 PM  
Blogger Chai18 said...

try reading some of Rav Chsim Sabato's novels, they are very good, if your Hebrew is good enough read them in Hebrew, though the English translations aren't so bad.

5:56 PM  
Blogger Jake said...

Oh yes frum people are truly intellectually starved. They never read. They never learn new things ever. I mean basically frum people just watch TV all day and vegetate. They suck.

6:09 PM  
Anonymous ClooJew said...

Jake,

You are, lulei demistafina, an ass.

8:53 PM  
Anonymous ClooJew said...

Bri,

I have to keep reminding myself that you are only seventeen years old, so you are entitled to fuss over the issues I settled years ago, lulei demistafina.

First, think of all the truly great novels out there. Then walk into your local Barnes & Noble. Fact is, there is a lot of mediocre (and worse) fiction EVERYWHERE, even in the Almighty secular world.

Second, the frum world doesn't breed good writers because it is not logistically possible, because there is very little money in writing professionally. It may be one thing to live sparingly with no kids and a girlfriend. But a frum person who (a) needs to get married, (b) ought to be getting married young, and (c) will be having kids sooner rather than later can't afford the starving artists life.

I think, lulei demistafina, that it is the logistics not the frumkeit that prevents a writing class from establishing itself.

Enough now. I must get back to my novel!

8:59 PM  
Anonymous ClooJew said...

Oh and TRK, you are SUCH an ass-kisser on this blog. Methinks you have feelings for our fair maiden, Bri.

Well forget it! She's mine!

Lulei demistafina.

9:01 PM  
Blogger The Rabbi's Kid said...

CJ,

Pistols at dawn? (You are still too old!)

I also think frum people are generally discouraged from writing novels, they should be writing obscure chiddushim on Hezek Re'iyah Shemeh Hezek which no one will ever read. Furthermore the educational level in many frum schools is insufficient to grant people the necessary tools and skills to produce a decent novel.

TRK

1:36 AM  
Blogger Behind A Door said...

cloojew, Jake is only an ass if you let him be.

3:37 AM  
Blogger kishmech said...

Cloojew - don't you recognise sarcasm when you see it? read jake's post again.

Avner Gold series.
Weinstock and Eliav.
Some random books, neither titles or author stick in my head.

You do exaggerate because while some of them may be crap..... had the misfortune to read one over yomtov and couldn't get past page 100 (the author didn't believe in research) a lot aren't as bad as you make out, as mindy says - Sun Inside Rain, some of Lazewniks books - the family sagas especially, I liked Pearlmans early books when i was a kid - the trilogy about the girl becoming a doctor, Don't appreciate her latest offerings. Same with Riva Pomerantz, her early books were ok. You gotta know how to choose, basically if the plot sounds too farfetched and contrived and you're reading p.50 and you laughed at an obvious error put it down.

You exaggerate. Sorry.

10:23 AM  
Anonymous ClooJew said...

kismech, I did re-read it and realized after the fact that it was, indeed, lulei demistafina, sarcasm.

Nevertheless, he's still an ass.

TRK, You knocked me over laughing--do even ten ppl reading this know what "Hezek Re'iyah Shemeh Hezek" is? Funny guy, you.

I was thinking more along the lines of javlins.

9:53 PM  
Blogger EN said...

In my opinion, your opinion on mental starvation is laughable or stupid or... unknowledgable(?) ; just to name on the top of my head a few adjectives of what I think of your opinion.
Let me inform you that many novels that supposedly (in my opinion as per your opinion) "open your mind", to quote you, "to offer a different perspective" give subject to a radical change in the mental status (psycologically) and spiritual genetics (known as tumma).This information is known in the Jewish language as kefira, AKA heresy. While admitidly there are some "kosher" books out there , members of the tribe, cult, ect. should not be blamed or misappropriated for mental stagnation. Apologies are accepted.

6:33 PM  
Anonymous Moshe said...

Brianna,

Judging from your writings, you seem to be quite an intelligent girl, the word genius might even come to mind. Funny you complain about the lack of quality Jewish books, let me remind you, we are the people of the book. So the big question is; have you ever cracked a Jewish book? Are you brave enough to read the thoughts of great Jewish minds of the past? I’d suggest you get busy reading some of those volumes collecting dust at your nearby shul and in most Jewish homes. Books or rather Seforim like Yesod VeShorsh Hoavodah, Shnei Luchos Habris, Chovas Halvovos, and most recently anything by Reb Avigdon Miller of blessed memory, Seforim that have quenched the thirst of many a Jew out prowling for some soul food.

A Vort I once heard comes to mind as I read your blog. It begins with the query of why do we say in the first Brocho of Shmoine Esrai “Elokai Avrohom, Elohkai Yitschok V’Elokai Yaakov” instead of “Elokai Avrohom, Yitschok V’Yaakov”? The answer is as follows. The Torah tells us how Avrohom realized that there is a G-D and worshiped him. One might think that Yitchok was just told by his father about G-D but never came to that realization by himself, the way his father did, therefore we say Elokai the G-D of Avrohom, The G-D of Yitschok and the G-D of Yaakov separately to remind us of how our nation came to being and how we must approach our belief by reaching our own independent realization of G-D. One’s searching for the answers is not to be condemned rather we are obliged to come to our own realization of the ultimate truth and to our own belief in G-D and from thereon live with Emunoh Pshutoh.

I know where you’re coming from. I’ve been there and done that. And I’ve joined the straight and narrow and walk proudly with those who when they say Haraini Mekabel Olai Ol Machus Shomaim BeAhavah, they mean it. If you’re as bright as I think you are, you’ll be walking the straight and narrow soon enough.

Kol Tuv

7:03 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

What about Pearl Abraham, the Romance Reader. That is a masterpiece. The best book ever about a girl going off the derech. The problem is that Artscrol/Feldheim/Targum would never touch it with a ten foot pole and the people who really need to read it---BY teachers and Moms mostly will never see it. Tragic. I'm surprised no one has mentioned it. Pearl Abraham is a true artist. The best of the ex or current FFB artists and its tragic that she can't find her place within our camp. Wishing you better luck. Being out there is no place for a nice Yiddishe Maidele.

9:31 AM  

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