“A story with a happy ending”: The story behind the story

My newest publication, an excerpt from the novel I’m querying, was published in Nebo under the title, A casual Passover seder table setting from wikimedia commons“A story with a happy ending.” This excerpt comes from late in the book as I start wrapping up characters’ stories and focuses on Adam Cushman, an American Jewish soldier after his return to the U.S. from his army service in Europe. It’s one of many scenes in the novel set during a Seder¹ and was fun to write. A bit of dialog in this passage, where Cushman’s aunt insists on Cushman wearing his uniform to the Seder says, “it’d be a mitzvah” caused a significant style change to the book as a whole—I had been italicizing non-English words and phrases and I realized that it would make the emphasis in this bit of dialog ambiguous so I ended up changing all those italics into roman type for that single bit of dialog.

  1. In a sort of matrushka fashion, the novel as a whole is also structured as a Seder—I created a list of chapter titles from bits of the Haggadah text and used that while writing the novel. The chapter title that “A story with a happy ending” is excerpted from is “cup of blessing” referring to the third cup of wine at the Seder, the kos shlishi. My only personal experience of a Passover Seder comes from attending the Seder hosted by the Los Angeles Catholic Worker, so my understanding of the Seder is, unsurprisingly, highly influenced by liberation theology.






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