January 13, 2009

Angel on the line


So Ben Greenman, New Yorker editor and author of the recent hit book Correspondences from Hotel St. George Press (which, for a beautiful but expensive avant-gardist book that’s an unsual, interactive package, has gotten some astounding press reviews), wants to get on the Oprah Winfrey show. There are some who would say he’s going about it the wrong way: “Dear Ms. Winfrey,” he writes in a Shouts & Murmurs column for the newest edition of the New Yorker. “Recently, I was watching ‘Best Life Week,’ in which your guests discussed the challenges that they have overcome, and it occurred to me that the events of my early life, which are the subject of an upcoming book I have just completed, might be perfect for a future episode …. I was born in Chicago in 1969. Shortly afterward, in 1941, my entire family was rounded up by the authorities and sent to the Theresienstadt camp …. The first few days there, separated from my family, denied even the most basic creature comforts, I was in a state of shock. I could hardly eat or sleep, and, to make matters worse, I had misplaced my cell-phone charger. … Then I met a young woman named Amalie. She was deathly ill, but I could tell from her eyes that she was kind, and the next week my appraisal was confirmed when she handed me a package wrapped in burlap. It was a cell-phone charger ….”

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House. Follow him on Twitter at @mobylives