Complete Story


Surviving the Quarantine Can Mean Feeding the Soul With 'Essential' Frivolities

How frivolity can give value at this time

Every few days lately, I’ve been opening my Kindle and rereading the same passage from the same book. It’s a Holocaust memoir by Gerda Weissmann Klein, originally published in 1957, called All But My Life. In this particular passage, the bulk of Klein’s horrors are over; she’s convalescing in a hospital where she’s caught the eye of an American soldier. He comes almost daily to bring her magazines and flowers, which baffles her ward mates. They are starving. They have nothing. Why doesn’t Klein ask her soldier to bring something useful, like food or clothes?

Klein tells them she prefers the frivolous gifts. Magazines and flowers make her feel “that I appeared to him as a normal girl, briefly confined to the hospital.”

This book is on my mind for a couple of reasons. I’d used it for research while writing my own recent novel. I thought I’d be on a book tour this week; instead I’m sitting in my living room. Which is the overriding tagline for many of us now, at least those of us lucky enough not to be sick ourselves, or working on the front lines: Instead, I’m sitting in my living room.

Please select this link to read the complete article from The Washington Post.

Printer-Friendly Version