BOOKFACE


 

 

 

BOOKFACE.org

BOOKS and their authors writing about writers

 

POET AMBER ROSE TAMBLYN

at City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco

 

e-mail: Books1st@Gmail.com

Writers Dave Eggers and his wife Vendela Vida

 

Recommended Reading

We Run the Tides by Vendela Vida

 

We Run The Tides by Vendela Vida

Review by John Patenaude

Part 1

WE RUN THE TIDES  by Vendela Vida

Published by Harper Collins

 The book begins with an epigraph, this quote by author Edith Wharton, and sets up the theme of the book:

 dishonesty and deception, truth, transition and clarity.

“Why must a girl pay so dearly for her least escape from routine?  

Why could one never do a natural thing without having to screen it behind a structure of artifice?”

 

Why do teenagers lie? Why? In one teenager´s mind “asking for forgiveness is easier than asking for permission.” We grow up out of childhood recognizing some of the lies in our lives, understanding truth from a lie, but children live in a world of great imagination, about things that might be but really aren´t. Most parents lie to their children, often in a protective constructive way. Most parents, I think, are clueless about what goes on in their teenager´s lives. Eulabee, the thirteen year old, shares her story and gives us a look at the inner workings of her mind, and a realistic glimpse of the attention in her family life.

A lie begins with a fib she shares with a neighbor and friend. Eulabee and her friend, Maria Fabiola, go door to door to share the lie with the other neighbors. That evening she is hiding in a closet from her angry and stunned parents and must come to immediate resolve to the situation, sort of a public confession. The book centers on friendships and family told by Eulabee. Her closest friend is Maria Fabiola, and her school friends Faith and Julia. Maria Fabiola garners all of the attention amongst others, partly for her physical attributes and because of her extraverted behavior. She has a unique and contagious laugh. We see Maria Fabiola tell a lie, have her friend Julia parrot her, while Eulabee says No, that did not happen, and Maria Fabiola and Julia share their version of the story with Faith who joins in the falsehood. The next day they are questioned by the school headmaster and the police, but Eulabee sticks to the truth, and the others the false tale. It brings division and separation for Eulabee, and there are other lies, that ultimately bring consequences, and the clarity of truth, resolve.

 

This book reminds me of Edith Wharton and the way she wrote books. This book ´s author writes about San Francisco, like Edith Wharton presented New York Society, both authors describing their literary time frame, with cultural attention to details about the setting and the neighborhoods we visit in our mind through a book, as we journey with our eyes or ears into this wonderful unfolding story about a San Francisco girl, Eulabee, a story about teenagers and the fragile friendships that form their lives, a wonderful story about families and neighborhoods. The girls know the streets they walk and run, they know the houses and who lives in them. The girls know where the boys live. They know the long swing where China Kantner lives. She´s the same age as these girls, and make this story seem real and true.  

Eulabee goes to an all girls school and lives in a prestigious Presidio neighborhood. We get a very accurate picture of San Francisco in the early eighties, and the contrast thirty five years later. Vendela is deliberate, like Edith Wharton, in her descriptions and settings, her visual memories retold in the way she makes this book witty and amusing. There are difficult & uncomfortable moments too, true to the changes in all teenagers lives.

Vendela Vida started out to write a nonfiction book but quickly turned it into a work of fiction that gives the author broader liberty, a chance to reminisce this nostalgic look at San Francisco, around teenagers, and lying. Eulabee is very honest about her lies, and how others lie, how it has changed her life, and ultimately, what she´s learned from it. This book is important and timely because we live in an age where lies affect us when someone of influence can call LIES  TRUTH to deceive and confuse others who believe it.

Vendela Vida has a literary license and her love for literature comes through in this story. Her real talent as a writer is the way she ends each chapter as a challenge, motivation, inspiration to continue reading. I remember finding books in the library like that, where the way each chapter ends compels you to never want to put it down. This book reads like a movie and hopefully might become one.

We built this city

We walk the streets

We climb the hills

We look for stars

We run the tides

 

Part 2

The  Message

"The clarity of truth is invigorating."

&

Eulabe shares:  "two lessons that reigned over my childhood:

1. Hard work conquers all obstacles.

2. Good triumphs over evil (which is always lurking)."

 

Nostalgic

The author knows what it´s like to be that age, growing up in San Francisco, and being around kids that age that she writes about. This book is a true nostalgic look at life that many people can identify with. It brings back pleasant memories to me of becoming a teenager, and the recollections of living in San Francisco during the 1984-85 timeline of this story, and I can relate to all of what the author describes in stupendous detail.

The book brings reflections in my mind, and I recall the day I spent with my thirteen year old niece visiting from New York. I bring her to a bookstore in San Franciso, and on that day, Patti Smith, poet, musician, songwriter, author and artist, is is in the store promoting her poetry book “Babel”. It is a special moment when we meet her because Bob Dylan´s “Simple Twist Of Fate” is playing on the bookstore´s loudspeakers. Lisa, my niece, captures her attention and she asks how old she is. Patti tells her “You´re the same age my daughter is. I had to give her up at birth. Now I´m searching for her. I´d like to see her again,” she says, resigned. "It´s not that I didn´t love her, because I do. It´s something I had to do then. It´s good to see what a girl your age looks like, Lisa. I´m going to give you a copy of my book “Babel”. There´s a poem in there about my daughter Jenny that I´d like you to read", she says, and makes the sign of the cross for her.  

"sometimes quite unexpectedly i gaze on the child i have brought on the world. i have never seen her nor do i expect to see by any more than the power of making my work known for her to find."

"jenny" excerpted, from babel by patti smith ©  G.P. Putnam´s Sons. Reprinted with permission

 

BOOKS

The author inspires us about books and authors, and provokes an interest in reading

The Unbearable Lightness Of Being by Milan Kundera

The House Of Mirth  & The Age Of Innocence by Edith Wharton

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

I´m not going to list them here, but there are many references to writers and their books.

 

 Humor and Laughter

This book has its funny moments, and it makes me smile and laugh each time I read it.

 

Friends

What´s important to these young teenage girls?

Outfits & shopping might change style over time but their interest never fades.  

This book reads like a diary. Eulabee records her interactions with her three closest friends in eighth grade. When she is shunned by her friends, they are still her best friends in her mind, and she holds their friendship together over time. Maria Fabiola, the center of everyone´s attention, has long black perfect hair, ethereal (light green) eyes, full lips. She´s attractive, and noticed, with bracelets cascading up and down her arm like a "waterfall of notes", and she is humorous, and known for her laugh, high-pitched and delicate, and her laughter contagious.

Julia has shoulder length light brown hair, cobalt (not "blue") eyes and a stepsister, Gentle.

Faith has long red hair, sometimes makes her look like Pippi Longstocking, other days she looks like Anne of Green Gables. She is special and adopted, named after the child who passed away, and she really identifies with her.

Keith Is Eulabee´s first boyfriend.

 

Family

Vendela Vida understands the dynamic importance to show how family helps shape our lives. Eulabee has a great relationship with her parents, and sister, Svea. Her mom is from Sweden, a culture and language her sister is more interested in than Eulabee. Her mom belongs to a Swedish sewing group, The Stitch ´n Bitch, that becomes a club of complainers. It is a good outlet for them to express themselves in a social gathering. And there are many interesting stories within stories that happen here in her family life. Eulabee has great interactions with her Dad, who tells her humorous stories. The disappearing Golden Gate Bridge in the fog brings out his playful side. He has an art gallery, south of Market Street. Other families in this book are more broken than this one, but they all play an important role in the teenager´s life.

Languages

"Spanish is more beautiful if you hear it."

Eulabee moves to Lisbon, notices all the similarities there to  San Francisco, like a twin sister city. She becomes a  Portuguese translator. This Euroculture tale is also very interesting. It reminds me of my Portuguese friends in San Francisco, and I´m grateful she shares this extended story with us. Obrigado!

 

Searching

 1984 – 1985

There are no cell phones, no social media, and no internet.  The San Francisco Civic Library holds a vast amount of information, and reference books and sources for more information. We use the Library Card Catalogue, and one day I could not find what I was looking for, when I notice a locked cage, a room full of stacks of books with no access to them. I inquire and receive special permission to spend an afternoon in this Closed Stack section, with the understanding I could not remove any books from there. I browse the shelves and skim the books, and to my amazement I find what I am looking for.

This book, We Run The Tides, creates a mystery about a missing book on the school bookshelf. And the stories told in this book focus on missing people, and kidnappings, real and made up ones, and their search.

 2019

Now we have The Internet and search engines working for us to find even more information. Ironically, there are still some things I cannot find on the Internet.

Thirty-five years later, Eulabee bridges the cusp of change from the transitional eighties to her grown up life as a translator, with a new family and old friends, except for Maria Fabiola, whom they search for but cannot locate her on social media. Eulabee has a chance encounter with her in 2019 in Capri, Italy, that brings the story to its climax, and for Eulabee, there is only the sound of Maria Fabiola ringing in her ears.

Promontory Riders

Eulabee shares "There are alerts, of course, and warnings, and in Sea Cliff these warnings come in the form of foghorns. The deep bellowing foghorns are the soundtrack to my childhood."

They are thirteen, almost fourteen years old. Eulabee, Maria Fabiola, Julia and Faith:  They know the neighborhood. They own the streets. They run the tides. They know how to read the ocean and navigate the slippery rocks from Baker to China Beach, how to ride the promontory between them at low tide, as "the ocean inhales its waves."

 

Hardback Book Released February 9, 2021

Harper Collins, publisher

Paperback Book Released October 12, 2021

 

John is a Grandpoppa, poet, teacher, songwriter, playwright and writer.

He has reviewed books for Saturday Review magazine and The Los Angeles Times.

He writes and performs as Uncle John, and in Spanish under the pen name Jhon Ramirez

The first time I am backstage with the Jerry Garcia Band, I’m sitting at the main round table listening to Jerry Garcia carry on a half dozen lively conversations at the same time. He is astutely following each one and contributes brilliant observations, upbeat, with a good deal of laughter. I finally capture his attention with my eyes and interject a question, "Have you seen the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind?" I ask him, not realizing he had a cameo in the film. He immediately replies, "I´m not answering anymore questions until we find out who you are." There is suddenly silence in the room. And I introduce myself as

"Uncle John"  

"That improves things considerably"

Jerry Garcia responds, lifting his eyebrows with a twinkle, and smiles,  and the banter in the room resumes.


HALL WAY TO CLEVELAND

WE BUILT THIS Video

 by uncle john

A golden opportunity rings one morning inviting me to participate in a rock Music video the Starship are making at a studio in downtown San Francisco, recording a new song "We built this city".

Over two hundred people show up there, and the director separates us into groups.  I am part of the group called the dead ringers, people resembling famous people. They ask me to play “Bob Dylan”, a compliment, and a challenge to act out, not just imitate, who he is. I hang out with beatles manager “Brian Epstein”, “Keith Richards”, and “Stevie Wonder”.

“All the New Yorkers in this corner”, as the director continues to form groups, and over 50 people respond to that call.

 “We Built This City” airs over the loudspeakers for the first time, that morning, and then repeats itself throughout the day, until we know the song by heart. It was written by Bernie Taupin for the Starship.

A girl named Jewel stood by dead ringer Brian Epstein’s side. He is a San Francisco hairdresser named Brian. He shares with our group that we are to be part of a video that is a takeoff on “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. They send me out to look for a hat. Part of Bob Dylan’s character is to be different, and unwavering, I try to be just that. I am determined to bring back only a hat that is given to me. What kind of chapeau? A fedora, a derby, a beret, a ski or cowboy hat? A silk top hat? My brother Brian he’s found the perfect hat for him. My doctor told me under the sun to wear a hat. I once worked in a hotel where one night, when Bob Dylan’s band and personnel, and manager check into their rooms after 3 am. they want food but the kitchen is closed, so I let them in to the restaurant´s kitchen to prepare their own. I notice some are wearing yarmulkes, and I wonder if the skullcap would have been the appropriate hat. I return with no hat, a guitar and a long black coat to play my best Johnny Cash version of Bob Dylan.

 The band has not yet arrived, and our Captain director, deadhead Patrick Shanahan, asks who are the musicians in the crowd, and "Bob", “Stevie” and “Keith” raise our hands and I am tabbed to entertain them. Patrick, holding a bullhorn for a mike, adds a belly dancer that puts me at ease as the crowd focuses on her. I chose a poetic rendition of Dylan’s song, “Don’t Fall Apart On Me Tonight”, sounding more like Aaron Neville’s “Grand Tour” version. The dancer relaxes me and adds a touch of burlesque to the event. I always love to play Dylan songs because they speak from the heart and spirit, emotionally are soulfully focused, and in tune with the times. I don´t want to imitate him, just interpret him through his songs. When the Captain asks how many people in the room are musically talented, to my surprise there are only three. Fitting enough, look-alike “Keith Richards”, who plays guitar that sounds like Garcia, and dead ringer “Stevie Wonder”, adds a pedal steel synthesizer feel, as we collaborate on a New Riders of the Purple Sage’s version of “Honky Tonk Woman”. We close our short set with Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up in Blue”.

I am in the hallway with the only man wearing a tie, and I ask him why. To distinguish himself, he says, for he is the producer who owns the studio.

I meet China Kantner, who is fourteen and in this video, and we talk about her Dad, musician Paul Kantner, and how I met him while seeing the same acupuncturist.

The crowd of extras  is reduced to China and her friends, and the dead ringer group when the band arrives. Her mom, Grace Slick, comes by and strums a few notes on my guitar. I have met Grace twice now, once at an art gallery in Sausalito, and grateful to hang with her  the artist. I get to sit and talk with Craig Chaquico who shares with me a story of his high school days in Sacramento where he quickly developed his talent as a skillful guitar player who grew up in a musical family.

We pose in lines while I look out and they look up!

 and I pop up, looking ahead, next to ringer Marilyn Monroe.

 We hide behind the stage, while the band, led by Mickey Thomas on vocals, and Craig Chaquico on guitar, Drummer Donny Baldwin and versatile musician Pete Sears queue up. I lead our group onto the stage, and some of us climb the towers while we dance with the band, while Grace and Mickey sing the song,     “We Built This City”.

 Bruce Hornsby once tried inviting the audience on stage with him at the Paramount in New York City. Now we know why bands don’t do this.

Knee deep in the hoopla, China and her clique run the streets and turn the tides.  We build this video in seventeen hours, finishing with a banquet like a bouquet,  a great rock 'n roll day.

 

BOB DYLAN´S NEXT BOOK :

 THE PHILOSOPHY OF MODERN SONG

to be released November 1, 2022

 

RAINDANCE

The Play

by Uncle John

Raindance.one

RAINDANCE.family

 

OjosZafiro.com

 

CHERYL STRAYED

WILD: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail

"Writing is hard for all of us", says Cheryl Strayed, when I met her last June. A poor girl overcomes poverty with rich words. At a time in her life when she thought she had lost everything, after the death of her mom and the end of her marriage, Cheryl decided to hike the Pacific Coast Trail from the Mojave desert north through California and Oregon to Washington. It took four years to plan and act on it. She carries the weight of all she needs in a back pack she appropriately names "Monster", an analogy to all the clutter in all our lives.  She is prepared, and learns all the lessons needed to overcome every obstacle along the way. She is organized. She writes about the interconnecting interpersonal relationships that affects her life reflecting on her time spent in solace among the beauty of the wild of nature walking in deep thought with the goal of completing her quest pushing her forward each day.  What she writes is with impeccable integrity. She is a premier memoirist with great instincts and awareness skills.  In her very long walk, she had to endure many hardships amidst amazing views.  She prayed when she didn't know God. She got to witness the virgin wilderness of flowers, walking in the same steps as John Muir, who wrote in his book "The Mountains Of California" in 1894, "When California was wild, it was one sweet bee-garden throughout its entire length, north and south, and all the way across from the snowy Sierra to the ocean." The whole experience changes her and transforms her life. "Writing will heal you", she shares. And reading her book opens the possibility of finding our own potential to find new adventures in the wild of nature.

Cheryl Strayed & Uncle John

I took a writing class with Cheryl Strayed & wrote five true stories in one day, inspired by this author. Quotes are by Cheryl.

"As weird as you are, trust others are just as weird."

 

"You can win people over better with love, kindness, generosity, light & goodness rather than hate. Lose yourself in the questions & find the answers through your writing.   You put yourself into your writing & it changes you.   Writing will heal you."

 

"Write about finding yourself doing something you thought you could never do."

 

"Write about animated objects or the ordinary miraculous."

 

"Writing is hard for every last one of us. Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They simply dig!"

"The deeper you go, the truer it gets."

 

"And who knows but that you have come to a royal position for such a time as this?"

Esther 4: 14

Her Royal Highness, Queen Noor of Jordan, gives a speech at a luncheon in San Francisco. The press ignores her speech but covers her entrance. The queen arrives in the hallway at the table to the banquet room next door, where the mayor of San Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsom, is speaking at a luncheon for the Jewish Vocational Service. The media quotes the mayor. He states the hotels' contractual dispute is making event hopping simpler, as events are more likely to take place side by side.

                                                                                                                                

I am assigned a seat at Table 72. "That table doesn't exist," I am informed, so I'm seated at a table up front instead. I asked if I could record the queen's speech. "Definitely not" I'm told. She is an eloquent, interesting speaker. She is American-born, active politically in college, and graduated from Princeton University with a degree in architecture and urban planning. Her Dad worked in aviation, and for President Kennedy's administration. She spoke about women in Jordan, their training in science and technology, their modesty. She shares a romantic moment she had with her husband, the Arab monarch, in an aircraft hovering over the Middle East, under the stars, in a peaceful glance: "Look, here's Jordan, over there she describes seven other Middle Eastern countries presenting a hopeful portrait. "And there," she says, "the holy city, Jerusalem, the three major theocratic faiths share." She addresses her husband's role in history, his work for peace, and her many projects. She wakes our reality about our perceptions of the Muslim people, and our bond with our common ancestor of faith, Abraham. She speaks of one golden rule embraced by the three theocratic beliefs: "treat others as you want to be treated," quoting from the Torah, and Jesus, from his sermon on the Mount, and  Muhammad.

She has a reception afterwards where I am able to have an audience with her. "No pictures, and she doesn't want to talk to the media," her people inform us at the door. She shares that when she would give a speech on some of the same interests she is covering now, and she is here today in support of the National Kidney Foundation, educating and informing people about kidney disease and what they can do to help; Her Majesty, Queen Noor, would give a public address that the media would cover, and all they would report about is her hair, what dress she is wearing, her accessories, the flower arrangements, the color of the curtain behind her, her evening gown, but nothing of the substance she is trying to communicate. Then they would write about her shopping, and meeting celebrities, and parties, and they have a fairy tale notion of what being a queen is, she shares. Her aspirations growing up were not for royalty, but rather serving in the Peace Corps, and she ended up with an unexpected life instead.

 

She is tall, slender, fit and youthful. She is sitting on a table, full of grace, her head poised and imperial, and she is wearing a beautiful spring dress, with flowers. She is humble and intelligent, with insightful wisdom.  When I approach her, I ask her permission to ask a personal question about her husband, and she indulges me, and informs me the story I heard is not true; "but I will tell you this," she says, "the king had great instincts". I ask her another question. "I didn't record my speech today," she tells me. "No one did," and she turns to her aides for confirmation. She challenges me to read her book "LEAP OF FAITH", which contains her message. "You'll find the answer to your question there." One of her aides gives me special permission to take pictures.

 

Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan

 

When The Moment Comes

The Embrace by Sergey Gorshkov, Russia

2020 Wildlife Picture of the Year

He set up a camera in the remote wilderness and it captured this picture

 

Mother Earth

By Deborah Santana

The first time I hugged a tree was twenty years ago. I was reading the books of Sun Bear, a Native-American medicine chief and sacred teacher of Chippewa descent, to become more educated about restoring balance to the earth. Sun Bear wrote that if people “wanted to survive the coming earth cleansing, to be part of the new earth, would have to reestablish very personal ties with the natural world.”I grew up in San Francisco in a neighborhood with cement sidewalks. My interaction with the natural world consisted of making mud pies with my sister in our backyard. Sun Bear and other indigenous leaders teach that the earth is sacred and we must honor its spiritual offerings to have harmony in life.

So, on a hot summer afternoon, I wrapped my arms part way around a rough-barked oak tree and heard the heartbeat of Mother Earth. I tried not to think about the bugs that might crawl up my arms or the dirt that was making a dusty pattern on my face. I was in a moment of awakening, doing something I was completely unfamiliar with…I was hugging a tree and developing a relationship with the natural world.

My head felt like it was spinning in the energy pulsing from the trunk. Standing still, with my arms extended, my heartbeat matched that of the birds in the branches, the horses on the distant hill, and the quietly moving insects on the ground. Our hearts were all beating to the drumbeat of Mother Earth, and I knew I was not separate from the trees, from the soil, from the poppies, roses, and doves in my garden, or the whales migrating from Alaska to Mexico. Hugging the tree awakened my connection with the origins of natural things and their relationship with me. Since that moment, when I walk on the Hoo-Koo-E-Koo trail on California´s Mt. Tamalpais or on Dol Dol Road in Nanuki, Kenya, I notice the landscape with a tree hugger´s sensibilities: the natural world tells me a story of a loving creator who guides me in my life.

 

Excerpted from The Lions and Me, by Deborah Santana from the anthology

Nothing But The TRUTH So Help Me God

Anthology by

A BAND OF WIVES

Nothing But The TRUTH

 So Help Me God

 

Our online 1st Editions

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FROM THE SHELF

UNCLE JOHN'S NIGHTSTAND

Audible Library:

The Overstory Audiobook By Richard Powers cover artBird by Bird Audiobook By Anne Lamott cover art

The Circle Audiobook By Dave Eggers cover art

Searching for the Sound Audiobook By Phil Lesh cover artA Long Strange Trip Audiobook By Dennis McNally cover artDune Audiobook By Frank Herbert cover art

HARDCOVERS

Thinking Like A Mountain by Susan L. Flader

The Essential Aldo Leopold - Quotations and Commentaries

ˇPio Peep! - Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes

We Run The Tides by Vendela Vida

 

 

POETRY

 

Poetry by

AMBER ROSE TAMBLYN

Free Stallion

Bang Ditto

Disappearing Act

Dark Sparkler

to be Reviewed by Uncle John

 

Essays

Era of Ignition: Coming of Age in a Time of Rage and Revolution


BlackLifePoetry.com

 

GWENDOLYN BROOKS & LANGSTON HUGHES

Both these poets had an influential impact on me in college & their work inspired me to become a poet, teacher and writer.

 I corresponded with Gwendolyn Brooks when I was an undergraduate student at Bensalem college (Fordham) and in a Master's program at Goddard college. She was poet laureate of Illinois.

Poetry by

GWENDOLYN BROOKS

A Street in Bronzeville

 

Novels, Stories, Plays, Autobiographies, Poems, Songs, Blues, Pageant, Articles, Speeches by

LANGSTON HUGHES

The Langston Hughes Reader

Tambourines To Glory

Recommended

Essays

What we need to learn about soil, "the living skin of the Earth."

Reviewed by Uncle John

to be posted

 

Science Fiction by

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

The Sirens Of Titan

Jerry Garcia's movie

Old and Recommended:

Books by Aldo Leopold

Considered by many as the father of wildlife management and of the United States’ wilderness system, Aldo Leopold was a conservationist, forester, philosopher, educator, writer, and outdoor enthusiast.

A Fierce Green Fire

A Sand County Almanac

 

BOB DYLAN

Chronicles (Volume One)

"Bob Dylan has written a  book of personal, historical and poetic observations...

Chronicles means 'the words of the days' in Hebrew".


PHIL LESH

Searching For The Sound

I'm a slow reader who enjoys it like a song

PHIL LESH reading the kids stories before the show

 

Recommended:

Memoir by

PETER COYOTE

Bay Area BOOK Festival June 7, 2015

 

Digital Poetry

"Merging the work of an artist as a poet with the one as a painter"

AGNETA FALK

In The Blue

Blue

Poets Jack Hirschman and Agneta Falk, The City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco

 

A Novel by

ANITA DIAMANT

The Red Tent

Review by Uncle John

Part 1

Anita Diamant gives us this wonderful narrative. This is told in the first person by Dinah from the Bible. This is her story. She is not just a footnote in the Bible but an important bridge between God and man. Dinah is born to Leah, her last child and Jacob’s first daughter and eleventh child. People familiar with the Genesis story know who Jacob and Rachel and Leah and Joseph are, but are not familiar with Dinah’s story told so eloquently here, true to her Biblical character. Unlike the "Noah" movie, The Lifetime TV series recently presenting “The Red Tent” stays true to the Biblical narrative. Anita’s book is called a novel because she uses the original narrative, fills in the blanks and unfolds the continuing story in logical sequence.  She takes few liberties that are different from the Bible’s version, like calling Issa & Tali twins, but Naphtali was birthed by Bilhah and Issachar by Leah. Tali’s name means “my struggle” which referred specifically to a struggle between sisters Rachel and Leah because Rachel could not bear any children. Rachel prayed in vain as Leah bore Jacob seven children. When Dinah was born, the Bible says “God remembered Rachel” and opened her womb and she became pregnant with Joseph, a bridge to destiny. Dinah and Joseph were close in age, and as she had no sisters, she found much in common with him who was different from her other brothers.

One of the important themes of this book is forgiveness, the key to every door of understanding. The stubbornness of their hardened hearts is what kept them repeatedly from opening this door and the consequences of their attitudes and actions unfolded the drama in their lives.

In the ancient Hebrew the Bible was written in, tent is “a tabernacle, a covering, and dwelling place”. Red in Hebrew can mean rosy, or “chaklîyl” as Jacob used the word in a blessing to Judah, one of Dinah’s blood brothers, and means “darkly flashing eyes, in a good sense, brilliant as stimulated by wine”. It can also refer to the blood connection here, blood relatives gathering in the female tent where menstruation and birthing took place, blood here being the color of life. It was the place where only women gather, to talk about first love or breast feeding, to sing songs together and tell stories to one another. It shows the importance of all four mothers of Jacob’s children, Leah, Rachel, Zilpah and Bilhah,  and the role they played in their children's destiny.

Chapter 34 in Genesis is a violent recount of Biblical characters centered around Dinah and the consequence of her actions of not following family traditions. This was a time and age where family and tribal cultures made all the rules. This was before God gave the commandments to Moses, like forbidding the worship of idols and killing for revenge. To understand this chapter in the Bible, that some call “rape” and use the word “harlot”, is to grasp the real intended meaning of the words used, and here we look at the original Hebrew. The use of the word “defiled”  to describe Shechem’s actions is different in the Hebrew in verse 2, ânâb, which means  “to humble one self, ravish, to sing or speak by mistake, weaken, submitting, exercise with force or gentleness”,  than the word Jacob and his sons use as “defiled”  translated as ţâmę and means “to be contaminated, polluted and made utterly unclean”.  The Bible also says Shechem loved Dinah and spoke tenderly to her. The king humbled himself by coming to meet Jacob to ask him to give his daughter in marriage to his son, but Dinah did not honor her father by asking for permission to marry the man she loved, and this was her “sin”. Two of her brothers refer to her as being treated like a “whore”, the Hebrew uses the word zânâh which means “to commit idolatry”, to try to justify their trickery in their murderous, vengeful rampage.

People write commentaries on Bible verses and interpret passages in sermons, telling stories as they relate to their lives and others. Anita’s interpretation of Dinah’s life doesn’t detract from any of these passages but adds an emotional element in telling her story, and uses the novel, of many of the same and different characters and events, to unfold the true meaning and quest of Dinah and who she is. In the Hebrew Bible, she is Dîynah and her name means “Justice”.

Uncle John graduated from Christian Life International Bible College in 2001

Reference Books:

THE BIBLE

THE DICTIONARY

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