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Nextbook's Jewish Geography with Auslander, Merkin, and Mendelsohn

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Coming up on Sunday, June 29 at UCLA is Jewish Geography: Place, Design, Memory, Imagination, a festival presented by Nextbook, an online magazine that also produces events showcasing Jewish culture. Details are available at Nextbook.org, as are $15 passes for the day (no reserved seats for panels, so get ready to stand in line).

Among the many notable literary sorts appearing that day are graphic novelist Ben Katchor (Julius Knipl: Real Estate Photographer) and filmmaker (Hester Street) Joan Micklin Silver, on the panel Larger Than Life: Romancing the Lower East Side. A panel called At Home on the Couch (and who can argue with that title?), moderated by Nextbook editor-in-chief Joanna Smith Rakoff, features writers Daphne Merkin and Shalom Auslander. Merkin, author of the fine novel Enchantment and a frequent contributor to the New York Times, is great at stirring things up (her essay two years ago on “father hunger” was especially provocative). Auslander’s recent memoir, Foreskin’s Lament, is at face value a funny, poignant coming-of-age tale about an Orthodox Jew in Rockland County, outside New York City. Barely concealed beneath the surface of his sure prose, however, is a moving, heartbreaking, and universal story. Auslander was raised in a household where God’s judgment and rules were conflated with parental authority, which took the place of authentic love and guidance. His parents participated in a form of fundamentalism that Jews, Catholics, and Muslims – many of whom are estranged from their hyper-religious families – will recognize.

Another panel, Things Past: Memory and Space, moderated by Threepenny Review editor Wendy Lesser, features super-architect Peter Eisenman and writer Daniel Mendelsohn, whose award-winning book The Lost was reviewed on LAist here. The remaining panels are no less tempting. See the full schedule here.

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Jewish Geography: Place, Design, Memory, Imagination
Sunday, June 29, 2008, 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
The Freud Playhouse and MacGowan Little Theater at UCLA

Drawing by Izhar Cohen on Nextbook