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It’s a Good Day to Talk about Amulets

Well, today is the on-sale date for the book. And, as promised yesterday, the unmooring has begun. Which means I spent last night with book-launch flu, hiding under the covers and watching No Strings Attached. Yesterday, I gave you a list of what I was reading (or about to) and thought I'd bridge the gap between the two posts by including one of the Ferlinghetti poems that I read last night. I don't know why this seems fitting to me, but it does. And so, "Nine":

9
See
   it was like this when
                    we waltz into this place
a couple of far out cats
                   is doing an Aztec two-step
And I says
          Dad let's cut
but then this dame
               comes up behind me see
                        and says
                 You and me could really exist
Wow I says
          Only the next day
             she has bad teeth
                  and really hates
                                  poetry

Now don't you feel better? Anyway, I also thought, I might keep showing you around my house (and that's probably because I'm extra aware of my apartment, seeing that I'm about to go on the road, and won't get to spend any real time here for a stretch). When my last book came out five years ago, a reporter from the New York Times, named David Colman, came to my house to photograph an object for a column he does called Possessed. I can't remember if he picks the item, or you do, but he comes to your house and you end up talking about some-something you own that is of interest to him.

What we talked about when he came by was an amulet that I'd gotten in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighborhood. (And now that I think about it, I got the amulet when I was walking around with a photographer to take a picture for an article about my first collection. So, maybe that's why I was thinking about it so consciously this morning.)

Anyway, today is a day to take stock and think about things, and to cross lots of fingers and throw salt over your shouldertoday is a day to take stock and think about things, and to cross lots of fingers and throw salt over your shoulder and avoid cracks and say a lot of tfu, tfu, tfu's, and welcome whatever can be welcomed and ward off whatever begs to be warded. When I was looking at that amulet, I couldn't help acknowledge that my interest in such talismanic things continues, and that I've very slowly, along with my girlfriend, begun to surround the original with a collection of hamsot (or hamsas), which are meant to fend off the evil eye, and which I find very beautiful. I've hunted down a few, and some were given as gifts, and a couple don't really qualify as hamsas at all. Anyway, I thought I'd show you what they look like, and see if I can't remember where each of them comes from.

÷ ÷ ÷

Nathan Englander is the author of the novel The Ministry of Special Cases and the story collection For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, which earned him a PEN/Malamud Award and the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction. His latest book is the story collection What We Talk About When We Talk about Anne Frank.


Books mentioned in this post

  1. What We Talk About When We Talk...
    Used Hardcover $11.95
  2. Coney Island of the Mind Used Trade Paper $4.95
  3. The Ministry of Special Cases...
    Used Trade Paper $5.50


Nathan Englander is the author of What We Talk About When We Talk about Anne Frank: Stories

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