Willing Donor

 

 

 

Willing Donor
 
By Beth Kissileff
 
 
 
“What I want to know,” Max said, looking at the other students around the circular seminar table “is who does your character want to fuck?”
On the last syllable, he turned to face Sara. 
She did not look away. “Who do you think?”
 The students all looked from Sara to Max, and back again to Sara. They wondered, ’Had they slept together, or were they going to now?’ 
 “Okay, let’s take a break,” said the teacher. “James’ “Beast in the Jungle” up next when we reconvene.”
 Sara walked quickly out of the class. She couldn’t breathe with the intensity of her feelings.  She had a sense of shame – why did he intuit that her character wanted to sleep with anyone, much less articulate that desire so explicitly? She was also flattered. He cared who her character fucked. Or, he just wanted to be provocative and really didn’t care. No, Sara decided, Max, or anyone for that matter, wouldn’t use such a strong expletive if he wasn’t serious. The crudity of his gesture, the daring of the proclamation, excited her. No one had ever wanted to know who her characters wanted to have sex with. No, to fuck. She could learn to use that word. 
After that class ended, she walked the few blocks from the Columbia campus to the Cape Cod Sandwich Shoppe on Broadway and 112th. Max Mogilner came in right after her.
“Hey,” she began awkwardly as they waited on line for deli sandwiches, already holding the accompanying bag of chips and black cherry soda.
“How was it for you?” he asked. Max’s question seemed appropriate; what preliminaries could there be after the experienced moment of public intimacy? “Having your story workshopped. You handled it amazingly.”
“Thanks.”
“No really,” he said, jamming his free hand deep into his pockets. “My story is up in two weeks. I hope I can deal as well.” He gave her a disarming smile from beneath his bushy brown eyebrows. His face was handsome, she realized, when it was lit from beneath by a smile, like a light sconce on a wall illuminating a painting above it. Smiling, he had a dimple on his cheek; its odd delicacy contrasted with the roughhewn aspect of his other features, the large chiseled nose and broader than necessary lips. 
 “I’ve never had someone take me so seriously as a writer, to ask me a question like that. So… who do you think my character wants to…sleep with?” She couldn’t mouth the word “fuck.”   She hoped he wouldn’t think she was a total idiot.
 Before Max could respond, Sara was at the front of the line, her turn to order. She felt his eyes on her back as the counterman asked what she wanted. She’d been planning to have her usual tuna on whole wheat but suddenly that seemed boring, not the image of herself she wanted to project. She wanted to seem seasoned, exotic, not afraid to use the word “fuck” or partake in the act. “I’ll have sun-dried tomato, pesto and havarti on a sourdough roll.”
His order was next. “Ham and cheese.” 
Sara stared at him. “Didn’t you go to the Five Towns Torah Academy?”
“I’m having ham and cheese.”
“You don’t even like ham and cheese, you just like saying the words, showing how distant you are from Five Towns Torah for the Affluent.” 
“Busted.” He gave her an enormous smile, displaying all of his clean white teeth, something she hadn’t yet seen. “I do love to say it. Ham and cheese, ham and cheese, ham and cheese. You went to that girls’ school in Roslyn, Hebrew Academy for those with Daddy’s credit card.”
She smiled and he added, “Gotcha, outed as formerly frum.” pointing at her with the index fingers from both hands, aimed like a gun.   He looked at her, now, carefully, top to bottom. Her dirty blond hair had a slight wave in it, natural not the product of a beauty shop. Her skin was good, clear, her brown eyes thoughtful. 
After they each received their sandwiches and paid, they moved to the door to leave. 
Sara said casually, “Do you want to sit and eat somewhere?”  She suggested the steps of the St John the Divine cathedral on Amsterdam, as the October day was still temperate enough to make the outdoors pleasant. They walked down 112th street towards Amsterdam.
“Your stories are autobiographical. Aren’t they?” he said, grinning mischievously but with kindness in his brown eyes.
            When he said this, Sara felt an immense smile coming across her face, startled at his perceptiveness. She wasn’t sure if it was the unexpectedness of his perceptions, or her pleasure that he existed, someone who cared about what mattered to her. Sara felt an internal jolt, a quick sense of being yanked by a fishing rod from somewhere outside her. He had caught her; he knew who she was and she was now his to reel in. She felt happy, sitting on the dingy steps, surrounded by pigeon poop, leading to a vast, soaring and intentionally incomplete cathedral She wondered whether that was what their relationship might be,  dingy surroundings, eating deli sandwiches, pigeons and their droppings, a noisy city in the background, but that it might lead somewhere larger, to a cavernous space like the inside of the vast cathedral behind them. 
When they finished eating, he asked if she had ever been inside the colossal structure. With their Orthodox Jewish religious backgrounds, having had it drilled into them that it was forbidden to enter a church, sitting on the steps seemed a daring thrill. Now, he was asking her to enter a forbidden place. 
Inside the soaring space, Sara felt miniscule, and hardly visible. This was not hers, it was the worshipping ground of people who historically had sought to destroy her people.  
“Why does it have to be so beautiful?” she said to Max. She continued, “They have such good stuff. Architecture, music, stained glass windows. Why can’t Jews have a better deal, culturally?”
Max took her arm and steered her behind a partition in place for the ongoing construction work. He responded, “It is beautiful because you are here,” and kissed her, quietly, on the lips, his mouth still redolent of the prohibited mixture of ham and cheese. Max was flagrant in his violations everywhere, enjoying the kiss in the cathedral, as much as transmitting a forbidden flavor to Sara.
Sara had been surprised that first semester at the intensity of emotion that surrounded the graduate writing seminar. She wasn’t sure whether it was generated by all these young people in a room together, revealing secrets, sharing intimate details of their lives and perceptions. For years, she had heard rumors about intense affairs that occurred at artist colonies like Yaddo and MacDowell. Now, she understood. There is an incomparable erotic feeling one gets after laboring over something, carefully toiling,  putting so much of one’s self into it, and having someone tell you “I stayed up past my bedtime reading your story, couldn’t put it down.” To feel someone so connected to you, that he would forego sleep because he was so excited to read your words, was intoxicating, a thrill like no other.
The utterly sober Sara constantly had to explain her obsession with Max to her friends. “You would fall in love with a person who cared about your writing too, no matter what his sexual preference or physical attractiveness. He asked who my character wanted to fuck!” she would explain to non-writer friends who couldn’t fathom what she saw in Max.  Physically, he had.raccoon-like circles under his eyes and a  nose that arrested one’s attention from other details since it was so much larger than average. Sara didn’t notice Max’s unconventional physical attributes when there was an animated expression playing on his face. His zest, his fervor for ideas, for writing, was exciting to hear and to be in the presence of.
One Sunday that fall they had what Sara thought of as the perfect date. After lounging in the morning with coffee and bagels and the Sunday New York Times, Max and Sara took the subway to some used bookstores downtown and spent the afternoon browsing. She found a copy of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man and they argued over whether Ellison might have set fire to his Massachusetts home purposely, to destroy his manuscripts and have an excuse for not publishing. While browsing, they traded obscure writerly words. She asked him if he knew what “esculent” meant; he countered with “flagitious.” They found a cheap Indian restaurant in the Village for dinner and ordered multiple dishes, arguing over whether the dish had tamarind and cardamom or turmeric and cumin, forks going back and forth between their mouths, feeding each other excited bites. Sara was sure this was how she could happily spend the rest of her life, with him. 
Yet with the suddenness of her passion for him, came the suddenness of falling out of it. The day before her next story was up for discussion in class, six weeks after the first, she was anxious. Sara paced her apartment, unable to focus, obsessively rereading her story, “The Power Vested in Me,” about a rabbi who performs a marriage and either loses the marriage license accidentally or maliciously. Sara wasn’t sure whether the story was more about the difficulty of bringing people together or the rabbi’s difficulties in accepting his own power. She was waiting for Max to intuit that she might need some support, a phone call with reassurance that he liked the story, or the kindness of a bouquet of flowers or bowl of chicken soup. Max never called.
In class the next day, the criticism was harsh. People thought the rabbi’s character was not developed enough, not believable.   No one was interested in who the character wanted to fuck. Max never offered comfort. He didn’t back her up in class, say anything positive about the story, mock her critics, or bring her an offering of any kind, however small. She felt betrayed, abandoned, as if he’d committed an act of violence against her, by allowing the class to savage her work.
When she told him on the phone later how much the criticism upset her, he said, “No one’s forcing you to take these classes. Get thicker skin. Drop out if it’s too painful.”    
Even though they stopped seeing each other romantically after his unforgivable lack of compassion in the seminar, their common interests bonded them.  There always seemed to be, at least to Sara, an undeniable connection between the two of them, a spark that refused to dim despite Max’s inconsiderateness. They would make dates to get together, to go to lectures or bookstores; Max either would or would not show at the appointed time.  She forgave him, for Sara could never forget the joy of those early days of their relationship, the incredible sympathy and understanding he had for her initially, and always the thrill of his using the word “fuck” in connection to her, in class, in public.  
Two years after they graduated from the MFA program, Max’s book of short stories, Your Heart’s Desire, came out.   Flattering profiles appeared in one magazine after another. The headlines were things like “Mogilner takes Jewish writing to the Max!” or “Heir to Bellow, Singer and Roth: Max-imal Talent of Mogilner.”
Sara knew many talented writers; most would never reach the staggering height of fame and readership that Max already had with his first collection. People are fascinated with extremes, Sara supposed, guessing why his writing had catapulted to the bestseller list, and continued to be reprinted and taught in writing courses. In his story “On the Inside,” a Holocaust survivor goes with her first year medical student son to look at his group’s cadaver.   The survivor has an intense fascination with what is truly housed inside humans, the ability to do evil. As Max wrote it, the story had an ordinariness which served to highlight the gruesomeness of his subject. Another story, “Sealed in Our Flesh,” was about an Orthodox woman who undergoes sex reassignment surgery, precisely because she can’t have the covenant sealed in her flesh unless she has a masculine sexual appendage. An award-winning story, “Why We Didn’t Get Together” was about a married rabbi whose life is turned around when a jilted lover leaves a message on the synagogue answering machine announcing that the rabbi is gay.   His stories were edgy and graphic, yet human and true at the same time, easy to digest. It was a complicated balance he pulled off in his work, if not always his life. 
Sara, unlike Max, did not have an edginess or element of risk in either her stories or her life. She was still the good girl that she had been in childhood and her stories reflected that.   The actions of her characters were nuanced and ambiguous, full of doubt and hesitation. Sara’s stories were about ordinary moments infused with grace or horror, but still enmeshed in the commonplace and daily. “What The Keys are For,” one of her stories, began with a mother telling a daughter, “Let me show you what my keys are for, in case something happens to me and you need to know.” The constant worry that the worst will overtake us all, showed through in every line of this story, the negative imagination of all possible tragedies. Another, “You write, they’ll manage” concerned a moment of connection a middle aged female professor felt when an attractive male student told her that his mother never wrote the books she could have, and that he wanted the professor to write hers, despite any objections from her family. It was an erotic situation between the student and the professor, his asking her to create something, telling her she had value, that he liked her, but no actual sex. This was typical of Sara’s characters, who became emotionally entwined, intensely attached, but were rarely able to bring that intimacy into the physical realm. 
 
While Max was building publicity and successes, Sara was teaching and continuing with her own writing. Her volume of stories was published a few years after Max’s, but without a fraction of the attention and acclaim his received. 
After a few years of teaching, Sara felt more comfortable losing her teacherly role in class, becoming less of an expert and more of a human being. She discovered if she revealed personal items to her students, she felt more comfortable with them and they with her. Fifteen years after she met Max in the MFA seminar, Sara decided to give her own students helpful advice at the beginning of the semester. She always prepared a sheet of quotations about writing to guide and encourage them the first day of class. The quotes changed each year; the one constant was the last few lines of King Lear, “Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.” 
She addressed the students, “Before we go today, I’m going to read you the last quotation on the sheet, my personal favorite.
The Hasidic masters, beginning with the Ba'al Shem Tov, taught that without joy it is impossible to attain anything. …..Joy starts with the sense that one is not alone, that someone is interested in you.’
Sara explained, “A rabbi, Rav Amittai, said this. In these classes, we’re with others who share what can be personal and private interests in writing. We may confuse the joy that comes from the interest of another in our writing, with their interest in us personally. I made that mistake once. I fell for a guy who was interested in the erotic life of my characters. He was trying to understand heterosexual women for a story he was writing. He was bisexual and never cared for me. That’s my word of caution, see you next class, bring the first exercise, a title and first page of a story.” She exhaled, relieved that she had been able to confess, as the students left the room.
That same semester, fifteen years after their first meeting, Sara and Max met for a casual walk in Riverside Park. It was April, the beginning of spring, and they came across a group of kids playing baseball. The ball strayed to them, and Max, throwing it back with an athletic grace, asked if they’d let him take a few swings; he missed the days of his high school baseball team. He asked Sara, not the kids, to throw him the ball so he could swing at it. She had never thought of Max as athletic -- there was something about his body that was too thick, ungainly in the wrong places, larger than necessary nose and behind, stubby fingers and thighs, but with a ball and bat in his hands he had a different kind of poise, a newly comfortable athleticism. Sara wasn’t a great pitcher, but she concentrated as she threw, made the effort to direct the ball to him. After she threw the ball, Sara felt the “thwack” of union the moment the bat hit the ball sending a shiver through the entirety of her body. When Max yelped with joy at the success of his hit, Sara began to fantasize what it would be like to have his energy inside her, creating new life.  
As they walked away, Max told her that what he loved about writing was the beauty of reaching for the intangible, to connect with something, not God, but something other in the universe, something beyond the self. “It’s so difficult, overwhelming at times, but we have to keep trying.”   When she heard him say this, she felt the same yank and tug of love she had at their first meeting.
They kept walking and finally seated themselves on a bench in the park, looking out at the Hudson River. The perfect temperature of the spring day was one of those rare moments of exhilaratingly perfect weather, a harbinger of more lovely days at hand, before the summer heat makes New York sweltering and suffocating. If you passed Sara and Max and looked on, they could be mistaken for any long term older couple, sitting placidly on a bench. Their silence was a comfortable one, of people who can sit together without speaking.
Sara said, “You’ve been wondering why I asked you to take a walk with me today.”
            “The chance to see my smiling face, no?” Max answered, turning to her and giving her his most winning smile, complete with the dimples she had first noticed in their MFA seminar, enabling her to realize there was sensitivity behind his mask of arrogance.
She looked at him and said, “Yes... but … I’d also like to see your child’s smiling face.”
He looked at her puzzled.
She continued, “I’ve been thinking about this. I want kids, I’m 38, I don’t have a partner and you don’t either. Be my donor.”
“Sara…” he began, but she cut him off.
“I wouldn’t ask for anything. No financial obligation, just a donation, genetic material. On your terms, as little or as much involvement with the kid as you want.”
“I don’t want a kid.   No distractions. I’ve got to work on my new novel. Then I’ll do other things.”
Sara almost started to cry. “It’s not fair. Men have the luxury of putting it off, as long as they want – Saul Bellow had kids in his 70’s. I can’t do that – I’m asking you as a friend, help me out.”
“Sorry. No donations.”
She looked at him, tears now in her eyes. “Do you have a reason or are you just being a jerk?”
"Having a child should be about wanting to create something in a relationship, not taking sperm to mix with an egg. Too ….clinical.   There should be… mystery… romance…something out of the ordinary.“
“What about my desires? I can’t have a kid?”
“I don’t want to be a sperm donor. Having a child isn’t about you and what you want, it’s about creating something with another person, hopefully out of love.”
“After all these years, isn’t there love between us? From the moment you asked who my character wanted to fuck, and then noted how autobiographical my stories were, I’ve had this…connection with you, just not always when I want or need it. But you’ve been there for me. You told me to apply to Yaddo because it was worth a try, and to keep resubmitting my stories when they were rejected.   Even when you’ve been insensitive, there is this core of understanding between us. I love you Max, I always have,” she said looking out from her tear-stained eyes, shocked at her confession of what she’d long felt. 
”You misunderstood. I didn’t want to fuck you or your character – it was a provocation. To see what would happen -- you loved it. For a man, I have a lot of intuition, I get people, it’s what makes me a good writer, partly.   I don’t have this special connection with you, we come from similar backgrounds, we laugh at each other’s jokes. I was conflicted about my sexuality then.    Sara, I care about you, you’re one of my closest friends,” he put his hand on hers at this point to emphasize the gesture of caring,   “but it stops there. Nothing else.”
She shook his hand off. “I don’t need your gestures. If you don’t want to help me, you’re not my friend.” She stood up and glared at down him on the bench. “There’s a reason your short stories are better than your novels. You’re okay to spend time with in short installments, but not for the long haul. You might be a better novelist if you knew how to be in a long term relationship, with another person, anyone besides yourself. Your novel is so fucking self-absorbed, that’s why no one else likes it,” she said as she walked away from him.
           
Later that semester, in an undergraduate class, Sara asked, “What happens in To the Lighthouse?” The students were usually pretty good in these classes, Reading for Writers, where they talked about literature not as critics, but as practicing writers. “Basic plot outline. Anyone?”
One of the most dependable students, an older woman, raised her hand. “Boy hates his father, loves his mother, everyone else is in love with the mother, artist tries to paint mother,” she paused for a minute, “mother dies, father changes, becomes aware of the children and their needs.”
Another student, a younger male, interrupted, “But the father has been trying to get to R. And then realizes he doesn’t need to, he wants to be more like the mother, kind, considerate.”
Sara interjected, “So you think Virginia Woolf was trying to say a selfish man needs the death of a woman to change him?”
            A third female student, responded, “Mrs. Ramsay transforms everything. She lights the candles at dinner, and a change goes through everyone. She wraps her shawl around the pig’s skull and it becomes a bird’s nest, a haven. From having her children scared of the shadows, she soothes them by making this other space for them. She has this… creative power, it’s tremendous.”
“Great thoughts,” said Sara. Then Sara, overcome with emotion at the thought of Mrs. Ramsay and her maternal creative capacities, told her students to excuse her as she rushed out of class into the bathroom, to cry. 
 
In the middle of that same summer, Max entered the Hungarian Pastry shop, on 111th and Amsterdam, one Tuesday afternoon and saw Doug Marmelston, leaning against the glass counter filled with stale pastries, ordering.  Doug had been in the MFA program with Max and Sara and wrote creative non-fiction, mostly immersion journalism, pieces where he inserted himself into experiences. 
“Max, hey?” Doug placed his brawny arm in Max’s smaller, thicker one. “How’s it going?” Max thought of the time Doug had positioned other parts of his anatomy in Max’s body. What went wrong with him? Max wondered. There seemed to be some chemistry. Then, Doug started avoiding me when things began to intensify.  
“Fine, same old,” added Max.
“Come on, your novel Foreskin Ministrations just came out.”
“The reviews aren’t great. They liked my stories, Your Heart’s Desire, better.”
The barista was ready to take Doug’s order. Doug turned to Max and said, “What do you want? It’s on me.”
“I won’t let you pay.” Max turned to the barista and ordered a double espresso. 
They went to the darkest back corner and sat down. Doug asked Max, “Do you know I’m a dad now? I’m featured in last week’s New York Magazine, ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Mommy: How Gay Men as Bio-Dads are Revolutionizing Fatherhood.' Jacob is almost 17 months now. Do you want to see a picture? We’re talking about a second. Jacob is the most amazing thing that’s ever happened to me.”
“Did Sara ask you to talk to me?”
“What?”
“Seriously.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Does she want your child?” Doug smiled.
“She did. It’s too creepy. If I wanted a kid, I’d do it with a partner, to bring something new into the world from love and desire, not in a cup in a donation center.” Max shivered.
“We did it.”
“What?”
            “Cindy and I. Jacob’s mother, we slept together. It was okay, I prefer men, but insemination has a better chance if you do it the old-fashioned way. So we did.”
“Oh.”
“You’ve slept with Sara?”
“In graduate school, probably. It was so long ago, I barely remember. You know what my problem is? I want to sleep with men and be with women. I need something from them, sympathy, affection, but I’ve never wanted a long term relationship with a woman.”
“You haven’t had a long term relationship with a man either.”
“Not entirely true.”
“You should try kids. It might be good for your writing.”
Max stared at him, and furrowed his eyebrows, perplexed.
“No really. You know the writer Mort Laurence? He taught in the MFA program when we were there. He just married and had kids, late in life, like at 50. His most recent novel The Tenderest One got these amazing reviews. I heard it’s a shoo-in for a National Book Award. They talk about its compassion and connectedness, the emotional power of his writing having a new force and urgency. You’ve got to read it.”
“I never thought about having kids as a career move.”
“Maybe you should. I saw the reviews of Foreskin Ministrations. They said you put too much distance between the reader and the experience. With people too. With me, you backed off. Just stopped calling. It’s in your writing. You don’t let the reader experience anything, but are always jumping in, making a joke, telling them they need to read it this way. It’s like… you don’t trust yourself enough to face things or let others face them,” Doug said coolly, sipping his iced cappuccino delicately.
“You want me to call Sara now and tell her I’ll have a kid with her?” Max said angrily. “Will that prove I don’t ‘distance myself?’ That’s bullshit, and you know it.”
“Calm down man.” Doug said placing his hands palms up on the table. In a saddened voice he added, “It’s a little late, Max. Do you have any idea how ill Sara is?”
            “I thought this was like a routine thing, some surgery with a long recuperation. I’ve been meaning to call her,” he lied. He didn’t think Doug needed details of their final encounter, to know her insult to him that still stung. Max hadn’t been in touch with Sara though he knew about her recent surgery through the mutual friend grapevine.
Doug raised his handsome eyebrows and let the elegiac bald dome of his scalp do some elegant wrinkling. “Max, she’s dying,” he said slowly.  
Doug added, running his smooth hands over his shiny pate and then letting his chin rest on his hands as he looked at Max, “Cancer. Ovarian. They might have diagnosed it earlier if she had been trying to get pregnant.”
“Shit.”
“You didn’t know.”
“Not at all,” he said sadly. 
 
In early autumn, a few weeks after Sara’s funeral, Max was walking along Broadway, and stopped at a newsstand at 108th street. The newsstand held foreign papers – Le Monde, Der Spiegel, Ha’aretz, The Times of London – and literary magazines – Hudson Review, Prairie Schooner, Ploughshares, Agni. Max’s eye was caught by a magazine whose cover was a shiny cerulean blue and whose title, Telling, was highlighted in unmistakable deep purple, Sara’s favorite color. The underlining looked wispy, thin, like a strand of hair was caught under the title.  He had forgotten that her writing program was putting out a journal, part of the way these programs make a name for themselves in the world. 
He opened it, and saw the introduction Sara had written. “As I write this, I am looking out the window of this spring day, at something utterly ordinary, a bird sitting on her nest. She is flapping, fluttering, doing those motions of birds in the spring. It is not an ordinary scene. The nest is made from my own hair. I’ve always wanted to create a haven for another, to bring a child into the world, nourish it and sustain it, but that hasn’t happened. The hair I shaved after chemotherapy for ovarian cancer is being used to help other eggs. I had been told that it might be a helpful ritual to use my hair this way and make it a sanctuary for new life. I never imagined how powerful this would be, to get up in the morning and look out the window to see how my avian friends are faring, to know that even if I am not living in this apartment to see it, those eggs will hatch, give life, continue. These stories are like the eggs, embryonic stages of the careers of new writers. I would have liked to wrap each issue of Telling with my own hair; I hope the readers and writers included here, see this journal as a nest I have created, a haven and sanctuary for them and their writing, to show the value of the constant rebirth and unceasing creativity. My hope is that the eggs in this volume grow, hatch and flutter off to new journals and publications, and continue the Telling.”
Max, standing there, on Broadway, reached into his pocket for some change to buy the magazine. He wanted to have Sara with him, even if only in her words on the page. It was the closest he could get to hearing her voice again. A line from Henry James’s story “The Beast in the Jungle,” discussed once in their writing seminar, came into his mind, “She was what he had missed.”   
Max had a powerful urge to do something concrete, to honor her memory. Jews always make donations in memory of the deceased, he thought.  He remembered the concept of hesed shel emet, the truest kindness, being that done to the dead; it can’t be repaid. 
He walked over the curb and stood in the street to hail a cab. Sara had told him about the clinic when she asked if he would be a donor. He gave the driver the address, 82nd near Columbus, and got in. 
When they arrived at the building, Medical Arts and Reproductive Center, he buzzed the door for entry. 
“Name?” he was queried by a disembodied voice from over the buzzer system. 
Max Mogilner gave his name.
“You don’t have an appointment. Why are you here?”
“I’d like to make a donation in memory of someone.”
 
 
 
 
 
 
© Beth Kissileff 2010
 
 
Beth Kissileff has finished writing her first novel, Questioning Return, and is working on her second. She is the editor of an anthology of writing on Genesis from different academic perspectives, A Genesis Anthology: Modern Jewish Thinkers on the First Book of the Bible. She has taught literature and Jewish studies at Carleton College, the University of Minnesota, Smith College and Mount Holyoke College. She has received fellowships from the Corporation of Yaddo, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Lady Davis Fellowship Trust. She is thrilled that her second published story is appearing in the first issue of Jewish Fiction.net, and wishes to thank those who were supportive readers, including Sheva Zucker and Judy Marcus. 
 
 


 

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