2017 or 1933? Does History Repeat?

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“I can’t recite the chronology or elaborate on the facts. I can’t explain the reasons or defend how we lived our lives. What I can tell you is how the events of 1933 sowed the seeds that fundamentally changed our future, that there was little hand-wringing or emotion, that circumstances were beyond control, that there was no recourse or appeal. I can tell you that events were incremental, that the unbelievable became the believable and, ultimately, the normal.”

Ralph Webster, A Smile in One Eye: a Tear in the Other

A Smile in One Eye: a Tear in the Other

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“Life does find a way to create a balance somewhere between smiles and tears. And, like a pendulum’s swing, life seldom stays in one place. Life keeps on moving until, one day, it stops.”— Ralph Webster

Guest Post: Ralph Webster, Author, A Smile in One Eye: A Tear in the Other

Patrisya M.

Recently I have posted review of A Smile in One Eye: A Tear in the Other, which became one of my favorite books of 2016. Ralph Webster, the author, kindly accepted my guest post request and today is sharing with us what inspired him to write his father’s memoir. Enjoy reading!

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This winter Ralph has met with nearly a dozen book clubs who have chosen A Smile in One Eye: a Tear in the Other for their monthly discussions.  His book tells the story of his father’s Holocaust journey.  Here is the answer to one question that is always asked and several quotes from the book.  Should you wish to arrange for Ralph to participate in your book club, either in person or via Skype, feel free to write him directly at ralphwebsterobx@gmail.com.  He wants to connect with readers throughout the world.

What inspired you to write A Smile…

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Selected Quotes – Feel Free to Share

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A number of book clubs have been reading A Smile in One Eye: a Tear in the Other (a semi-finalist in the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards – Memoirs/Biographies).  I felt honored when someone handed me this list of quotes from my book.  

“Life does find a way to create a balance somewhere between smiles and tears.  And, like a pendulum’s swing, life seldom stays in one place.  Life keeps on moving until, one day, it stops.”

“Nothing about these times makes any sense.  Nothing.  Putting it to words only makes it sound too simple.”

“I can tell you that events were incremental, that the unbelievable became the believable and, ultimately, the normal.”

“I thought those were others.  Soon, I was to learn that they were us.”

“My parents have lived longer than most and have expected very little.  We have been blessed in too many ways to count.”

“I’ve made my peace.  He will always be part of me.  I don’t need to watch him die.  I am just glad I was able to watch him live.”

“He told me that what he owned and accumulated didn’t matter.  He still had his family.  We still had our future.  Go forward,  You can’t look back.  It will destroy you if you do…  Ever since that day, I have seen the world through a different prism.”

“The way I see it, religion, has done our family more harm than good.  For me, faith has never been a source of comfort…  For herself, Mela always missed having that sense of identity.  She had a longing to belong…  Long ago, we found that compromise.”

“With all her heart, Mom believed in opportunity for everyone and privilege for no one.  She put her children first, and her faith and trust in the American dream.”

“All of us have parents.  Generations pass.  We are not unique.  Now it is our family’s turn.”

A Smile in One Eye: a Tear in the Other is a story about the holocaust and the struggles a proud, prosperous, and patriotic German family faced.  Their circumstance is compelling.  Baptized and confirmed in the Lutheran church they were abruptly cast as Jews – an ancestry always respected but never embraced.  It made a life-and-death difference.  Some would say this book is a biography; others might call it a memoir.  While true in terms of people, places, and timeline, it reads like a historical novel.