A Conversation with Jeannette Katzir
Carrie: What inspired you to write BROKEN BIRDS?
Jeannette: I began to jot down notes one year before my mother ended up dying, then when she had her stroke and died the after math was so painful that I had to write. I wrote day and night to vent, then re-wrote and re-wrote. Because it was a memoir, I wasn’t able to finish the book until all the mess around me ended.
Carrie: What is your favorite scene in BROKEN BIRDS?
Jeannette: It would have to be when my mother, a survivor of the Holocaust meets the supposed upper-crust of New Jersey. I called my parents the Hillbillies after the show Beverly Hillbillies (because they weren’t poor, but knew no better) and the in-laws they had come to dine with the Drysdales. Never has there been such a mismatch of personalities. The scene in the restaurant made me laugh out loud . . . and I wrote it.
Carrie: What are you reading right now?
Jeannette: I am currently reading Eat. Pray. Love., and I have to admit that while is a fine writer I am having trouble getting through the book. I have refused to see the movie, because I don’t want that to sway my opinion of the book.
Carrie: What is the best advice you’ve ever recieved?
Jeannette: The best advice I have received is from the review at the Huffington Post. Whenever I get a less than flattering review–which isn’t too many, thank goodness–I am heartbroken, but he reminds me that even one of my favorite writers, Dan Brown gets bad reviews.
Carrie: What’s next for you?
Jeannette: Everyone loved the portion of the book where my mother was running through the forest. So I am writing a totally fictional account of her time as a partisan. It will follow the original premise, but will really take the reader into the ghetto and the forest.
Carrie: Is there a primary message you’d like to convey?
Jeannette: Sometimes blood isn’t thicker than water. If you are going to write a will and leave things (as is your right) uneven, then dispense everything while you are alive and allow the children to vent their anger and feelings of un-love to you directly.
Book excerpt ~ A DRYSDALE MARRIES A HILLBILLY:
FOR THE POLTZERS, THE urge to marry was not restricted to only the women in the family. Steven had met a strong-willed woman named Brenda. He wanted to have his siblings meet her so we could tell him what we thought of her.
After our first meeting with Brenda, we didn’t think too much of her. She spent most of our first evening with her recounting all the negative aspects about our Steven.
“Steven isn’t affectionate enough…Steven isn’t ambitious enough…Steven doesn’t really appreciate the better things in life, like I do.” The evening dragged on and on. We tried to defend our younger brother, and explained that the Poltzers didn’t equate price with quality. We had been taught to save money and always look for the bargains in life
“I’m not a Poltzer and that’s not the way I plan on living,” she stated in a condescending tone. Condescending is exactly how she acted from that moment on. She was arrogant, self-centered, and had a nasty mean streak.
Brenda’s behavior prompted Shlomo to give her the nickname of “Mrs. Drysale,” because she appeared to look down on the Poltzers, just as the rich banker’s wife had in the television series The Beverly Hillbillies. The show had been a Poltzer family favorite.
“Steven, Brenda’s not right for you,” we warned him. “She’ll crack your balls with her bare teeth.”
“Don’t worry about all her blustering,” Steven explained. “I can handle her.”
Despite our protests, he continued to pursue the relationship, determined to prove to all of us that he could “handle” her. We knew it had reached the point of no return when her parents, the Grossmans, flew in from the East Coast to meet Mom and Dad.
Rosalyn and Ben Grossman could not have been more different from Channa and Nathan Poltzer. Tall and slender, Rosalyn had her short, professionally colored hair styled weekly. Through her thick East Coast accent, she talked a great deal about her country club. She wore diamonds on her fingers, which matched the tennis bracelet on her wrist, and she wore costume jewelry around her neck and faux diamonds on her ears. Ben, her soft-spoken husband, wore a Ralph Lauren polo shirt tucked neatly into his pressed trousers and a pair of Italian loafers.
Then there were Mom and Dad. In Mom’s world, if a single color was good, then a flurry of brilliant reds, blues, and yellows was always better. For this meeting, Mom chose a vibrant polyester button-down blouse with oversized flowers. Her pants sort of matched, and her sandals coordinated with her purse…kind of. Dad wore a short-sleeved, beige-colored shirt with dark pants and black shoes. He also wore his trusty camel-colored cardigan sweater, in case the restaurant where they planned to meet had its air-conditioning on too high.
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