About the arts and ideas - on my novels and literature, music, and art

A new book about Beethoven gathers together (and completely rewrites and supplements) my blog posts on Beethoven into a short introduction to the composer, Ways of Hearing Beethoven, which I hope to see published. My novel The Fall of the Berlin Wall, completed a year ago, is about musicians and particularly the intense, irrepressible daughter of the legendary pianist featured in my previous novel Hungry Generations, now fifteen years after those events. Five years ago, my 2015 novel, The Ash Tree, was published by West of West Books in conjunction with the April 24, 2015 centenary of the Armenian genocide; it's about an Armenian-American family and the sweep of their history in the twentieth century - particularly from the points of view of two women in the family.
There are three other novels of mine, which I would love to see published. One is Pathological States, about a physician's family in L.A. in 1962. Another is Hungry Generations, about a young composer's friendship in L.A. with the family of a virtuoso pianist, published on demand by iUniverse, which I think would be of value to a conventional publisher. A Burnt Offering - a fable (a full rewriting and expansion of my earlier Acts of Terror and Contrition - a nuclear fable) is my political novella about Israel and its reactions to the possibility of a war with Iran (with the fear that it will be a nuclear war).
[My blog posts are, of course, copyrighted.]

Thursday, April 24, 2014

April 24, 2014 - the 99th anniversary of the Armenian genocide

The Prime Minister of Turkey, who is head of the ruling Islamic party, has recently expressed his commiseration with the Armenian grandchildren of the survivors of the 1915 “massacres” – which he does not call a genocide. What is bad news and what is good here? The bad news is of course that the long-time ruler of Turkey will not use the term genocide, though he does speak of a million and more dead; the word genocide carries a political weight which is too great for him to bear at least this year. The good news is that the long-time ruler of Turkey has directly addressed the great loss of Armenian lives in 1915 when Turkey was under Ottoman rule, and this means that next year’s centennial of these deaths may well provide the occasion for added recognition and rapprochement.

The burden borne by the grandchildren of genocide survivors haunts all Armenians, even the most complacent, and it provides the theme of much Armenian literature over these one hundred years. It is particularly appropriate then, though unfortunately still too tentative, for Erdogan to address himself to those now fully mature Armenian grandchildren. Their significant burden has seldom been noted by Turkish authorities.

It is this burden carried by the children and particularly by the grandchildren of the genocide which has loomed large in my own thought and imagination. It has led me to write a novel I’ve just completed, “The Ash Tree.” The book is partly a fictionalized version of the story of my wife’s family, for her father – Aram Arax – was a witness in Istanbul in 1915, and his memories form a crucial inheritance for Jeanette and her brothers.

That story has been explored in her nephew Mark’s memoir, in other fiction, and in essays; what I’ve tried to do is to tell it particularly from the point of view of the women in the story. The mother and the daughter are two passionate and lively women, who experience in equal measure the tragedy and the comedy of this story.

I’ll try to describe more of "The Ash Tree" in future posts; I’ve been away from this blog due to illness, but am returning.