The Arty Semite

Author Blog: Double Vision

By Tehila Lieberman

Earlier, Tehila Lieberman wrote about two of the short stories from her collection “Venus in the Afternoon.” Her blog posts are featured on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:


Perhaps after I was born, someone sneaked into the hospital nursery and instead of snatching me, stood above me and whispered, “May You Have an Interesting Life.” The motives of this person would not have been clear, nor their intention — blessing or curse. But “interesting” is pretty much a guarantee for anyone who understands early in their life that they have been born into a world that is not their world; that they will need to exit and go forth from what they have known into the babel of many other tongues, satchel on their back, at any given moment looking both forward and back. We who have done so will forever have the understanding, the language of the insider while willingly — no desperately — at all costs — wanting to be outside.

I have not yet read Jeanette Winterson’s recent memoir but when I first read her novel, “Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit,” certainly inspired by her strange and interesting life of having been adopted into a family of evangelical Christians, I felt that I had found my sister. The extraordinary writer, Kate Wheeler, whose past includes a stint as a Buddhist nun in Burma, has a magnificent short story collection entitled “Not Where I Started From.” That would be an apt title for a memoir, should I ever decide to write one.

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When a Story Is Born Form First

By Tehila Lieberman

Tehila Lieberman is the author of the short story collection “Venus in the Afternoon.” She is currently completing a novel entitled “The Last Holy Man.” Her blog posts are featured on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:


Most of my stories begin with an image or a line that arrives whole and I follow it into the dark, as if with a headlamp and supplies for a long trek, seeking to illuminate what lies in front of it, to the sides, or in the way of back story, behind.

But two stories announced their form first. One of these was “Cul de Sac,” which came to me as a theme with several variations. I imagined it as a collection of stories that loosely shared a theme, only in miniature, and envisioned these miniature narratives all woven into one short story. The relationships between the characters and the various story lines, which involved betrayal and loss, would emerge with the writing. Instead of bridges or a chorus, the pieces would be tied together in a Coda. I knew this early on.

The other, “Waltz on East 6th Street,” arrived as a Triptych and hence its three panels. While I knew the general questions I wanted to tackle, I had no idea at the outset what each “panel” would comprise.

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