Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Writer as Artist

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Writer as Artist

Article excerpt

THE THEMES of father vs. son and Jewishness vs. the rest of the world that are so central to "The Gates of November" are key elements not only in Chaim Potok's novels but in his career as a writer.

He recalled that as a boy, he showed talent as an artist, but that world collided sharply with the values of his father. The conflict is the core of one of his best and best-known novels, "My Name Is Asher Lev."

"Words on paper are far more acceptable in the Jewish tradition than paint on canvas," he said. "Somehow paint on canvas is at best a frivolity, at worst a Gentile enterprise. But words on paper - well, as long as you got your grades and weren't bothering anybody and sat at your desk, my father wasn't bothered." When he decided to become a professional writer, Potok knew he had to break out of what he called the "fundamentalist version of the Jewish experience" that permeated his family. …

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