I met Paul Brenner on Twitter where he is known as @prbrenner. He appeared darkly mysterious, difficult to identify, and a man of few words. As time passed, he began to respond to my tweets more aggressively, and I admit that I was somewhat astounded. I was not afraid of Paul, it was just that I felt a power beneath his tweets that I perceived as feral. What better candidate for my Conversations column, than this man of mystery? Let us now unravel some of what went into the making of Paul Brenner. This man is not a figment of your imagination, he is real.
I have a wonderful new friend, Sara Leah Lawent, also known as @SaraLeah770 who I am getting to know on Twitter and through email. Many people are unclear about what living in Israel is all about, including me, and I am excited about having a friend in Israel. I admire and respect Sara Leah for living in Jerusalem and hope that I will meet her soon in our Land.
"...I like jazz and classical music and your book is built up as a jam session; with voices singing around a theme, adding something of their own personality, flooding memories;and then withdraw to give room to another voice who pick up the thread and goes on... it's an entirely new approach of writing. I don't like comparing but if needed, I'd say We Never Lost Hope is somewhere between Virginia Wolf's Waves and Dokotorow's Ragtime. You have that rare quality to taking the reader and simply walk him through the events, with no pathetism. I felt like you being here, in Sighet and Satu Mare and we walked along the streets and you talk to me... By the way, in Sighet there are Festingers still living. Relatives of yours? If you don't mind, I presented your book at the radio I work at..."
*Update Johnny Popescu has died. He was a Romanian journalist involved in writing and recovering Sighet's pre-war Jewish community. He is working on a documented history covering seven hundred years of Jewish history and culture in Romania. #RIP Johnny