Sunday, July 20, 2014

"All I Love and Know"

Judith Frank is the author of Crybaby Butch, which was awarded a Lambda Literary Award in 2005. She received a BA from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and a PhD in English literature and an MFA in creative writing from Cornell. She was the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts and has held residencies at Yaddo and MacDowell. A professor of English at Amherst College, she lives in Massachusetts with her partner and two children.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, All I Love and Know, and reported the following:
How lucky! – page 69 of All I Love and Know is a pivotal moment of the novel! It’s the end of a chapter, for one, so ideally, it rings out. Partners Daniel Rosen and Matt Greene are in Jerusalem; Daniel’s twin brother Joel and his wife Ilana have been killed in a cafĂ© bombing, and the couple has come for the burial. They are devastated, and they are the only ones who know that in their will, the deceased parents designated Daniel the guardian of their children. In this scene, the Israeli lawyer (Assaf) discusses the will with Daniel, Daniel’s parents (Lydia and Sam), and Ilana’s parents (Malka and Yaakov) and reveals that in Israel, the decree in the will doesn’t necessarily hold – that the Israeli courts will decide who gets custody based on “the good of the child.” Malka and Yaakov, Holocaust survivors who have lost their only daughter, are horrified that the children might be taken out of Israel, not to mention raised by gay men. Daniel’s mother Lydia is stricken because she doesn’t like Matt; she thinks he’s vain and shallow. Daniel feels desperately undermined: the possibility of an Israeli court ruling in favor of a gay man seems unlikely to him, and the prospect of raising the children has been the only thing keeping him going after the loss of his brother. Everybody in the room is exhausted, grief-stricken, and stressed out.
“Daniel,” his father said.

“What are my chances?” Daniel demanded in Hebrew, ignoring his father, fixing Assaf with a cold look. He remembered something. “They’re American citizens; doesn’t that count for something?”
“Not necessarily, Daniel,” Assaf said. “You’ll still need a court order to take them out of the country.” He reached forward and clasped Daniel’s shoulder. “But don’t assume anything, either good or bad. There are many factors.”

His father gripped his elbow. “Don’t worry, son,” he said softly. “We’ll fight this.”
Daniel shook his arm free. “I don’t understand this,” he said. “The parents decided what was for the good of the children.” He felt he was about to cry, and mortified, covered his face with his hands. “Poor Joel and Ilana,” he moaned. “It’s what they wanted.”

“This is crazy,” Lydia was saying, looking to Sam for corroboration.

The lawyer crouched and tried to take them all in with his gaze. “Everybody, please be calm,” he said, first in English, then in Hebrew. “Look. We are shocked by these terrible deaths. When we recover a little bit, I know that we’ll all do our best to make sure that Gal and Noam have lives that are as safe and normal as possible.”

Normal? Daniel burst into tears.

Malka was clutching at Yaakov and asking him how Ilana could do this to them, and he was urging her, with increasing impatience, to calm down, to try to understand that the court would surely be on their side.
Visit Judith Frank's website.

--Marshal Zeringue