Inheritance by Dani Shapiro, a Book Review

Dani Shapiro uncovers some deep resources in her soul when she enhances our lives with her writing. There is much craft and editing in writing of this quality. Nonetheless, God granted her a gift of depth and a voice to beautifully convey that depth to others. It is a treasure.

Inheritance is an astonishing expression of that gift. It asks a universal question years in the answering for most of us. Who am I?

She asks that question having established at 54 that she was not only conceived by artificial insemination but that her biofather was a Protestant medical student. That journey started when on a lark she submitted a vial of her saliva to Ancestry.com.

Having learned she was not completely, but, in fact, one half Jewish she expressed: “I did not come from the line of small, wiry, dark-eyed people of the shtetl, the men swaying over crumbling tombstones, prayer books in their hands. The imprint of pogroms, of the difficulties and sorrows of immigrant life was not mine—at least not in a physical sense.”

She broadens her approach when she questions the ethics of the articial insemination (another version of the letters AI) of the 60s where today’s DNA discovery of the “anonymous” biofathers was outside the vision of its practitioners. Ms. Shapiro questions the nature of eugenics in the AI business, a philosophy which as we are well aware nearly wiped out European Jewry in the 30s and 40s.

The AI business aside Ms Shapiro helps the reader to appreciate the trauma of discovering a beloved parent was not your bioparent. That person was her late father. Some of the responses from relatives and friends on her journey of discovery are tenderly beautiful and poignant.

If you have missed her writing you night enjoy starting with this engaging memoir.

H. Robert Rubin, MD, Amazon best selling memoirist and author of Look Backward Angel and How Did I Get Through This? available on Amazon.

The Jews, My People

Memoirist Dani Shapiro in her memoir, Inheritance, having learned she was not completely, but, in fact, one half Jewish expressed:

“I did not come from the line of small, wiry, dark-eyed people of the shtetl, the men swaying over crumbling tombstones, prayer books in their hands. The imprint of pogroms, of the difficulties and sorrows of immigrant life was not mine—at least not in a physical sense.”

The lines reminded me that these are my people. I am small and wiry and dark eyed. This is how they suffered and transcended the everyday in prayer. It brought meaningful tears to my eyes.

Those eyes of mine, I suspect from all the inbreeding in the ghetto, have been followed for many years for their over abundance of dark pigment. The pigmentary changes are called Krukenberg’s Spindle. The disease, also known as Pigment Dispersion Syndrome, enhances one’s odds of developing glaucoma. By the grace of God that has never happened to me.

One would think with all the defects of inbreeding like an increase among Jews of the incidence of breast cancer and GI cancer that they would be a short lived people. In fact, if he is still alive a man who turned 116, a Jewish Holocaust survivor, has been the oldest man on earth. Life is full of surprises.

H. Robert Rubin, best selling Amazon memoirist and author of three books available on Amazon, Look Backward Angel, How Did I Get Through This? and Please Save the Third Dance for Me.

DNA ?

So the first “spit to vial” Ancestry.com analysis for me read 94 per cent Ashkenazi Jew. To that point I had no idea I might have Greco-Roman, Asian, Spanish and native American DNA. I came up with an explanation for the six per cent in the fall of 2015. I spelled it out in my first book of memoirs, Look Backward Angel.

Life is full of surprises. Ancestry.com is so successful that in the last year or so they increased their sample sizes significantly. That meant for the vendor and consumer more accurate data on which ethnicities/nationalities clustered certain genes. At least that is my understanding. I was newly advised contrary to my premature analysis in 2015 that I was 100 per cent Ashkenazi Jew.

So I get the benefit of the Jewish work ethic/ effectiveness and the dysbenefit of ghetto centered inbreeding. This would have been accentuated in my paternal grandparents who were cousins.
But whatever deleterious genes might be poking around in my cells, I am 73 and still ticking, at least the last time I checked.

Some thoughts on Retirement

On 1/31/19 I will have been retired five years. I thank God I could afford to and that my favorite vocation came to the surface, writing. I guess somewhere deep down I realized that when I memorialized my mom at her memorial service about 12 years ago.

My late, articulate, attorney brother-in-law was at a loss for words. Boy, did that surprise me. Mom’s close friends and relatives who attended were deeply touched. That eulogy for this woman I loved with every ounce of my being became the first memoir in my first book, Look Backward Angel, available on Amazon.

The retirement allowed me with greater regularity and relaxation to spend time stretching, lifting,and power walking.

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Tsitsipas’ Edge versus Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic

Can Stefanos Tsitsipas defeat Rafa and then his likely final opponent, Novak Djokovic? The twenty year old’s mother played professional tennis and met his father, an ardent player and coach at a WTA event. His maternal grandfather was an Olympic gold medal winning Russian soccer player.

Like ice water veined Serena Williams, the young man had a life threatening event he got through apparently enhancing his courage under pressure, a near drowning in which his father saved his life. Serena had a pulmonary embolus threatening her life. Stefanos demonstrated the ice water that runs through his veins in his defeat of; 1) the GOAT, Roger Federer a few days ago and 2) the 2009 Djokovic conqueror without a defeat in 2009, Agut, in their recent match.

Why can he defeat Rafa and Djokovic? He defeated Novak in a Masters 1000 event in Toronto last year. He lost to Nadal in the tight final but has noted he learned he could beat him in that match that ended with a tie break.

Why might he be able to defeat the great Raphael Nadal? I think the following pertains: 1) His serve is superior to Rafa’s; 2) he has more reach at the baseline and at the net; 3) his 6’4” height will largely eliminate the potential Rafa advantage of kicking high bounces to his backhand; 4) there are no visible weaknesses in his game; 5) Federer had handled Rafa well on hard courts the past several years but couldn’t do so with Tsitsipas; 6) Tsitsipas’ aggressive game is extremely powerful with more zip to his serves than Rafa and just as much punch on his groundstrokes; 7) He appears to be every bit as good as Rafa under pressure and 8) His young legs will neutralize the conditioned legs of Nadal.

In conclusion, I give Tsitsipas the edge tomorrow and in the final versus his likely opponent, Novak Djokovic.

H. Robert Rubin, best selling Amazon memoirist with two books available on Amazon, Look Backward Angel and How Did I Get Through This?

A Young American, Frances Tiafoe, 21 and the Victor Today, Will be Amongst the Final Eight Men Standing at the Aussie Open.

It happened a few short minutes ago. Frances Tiafoe would not give an inch. He defeated Grigor Dimitrov in four stirring, close sets.

For the first time in a quite a while a young American will be playing in the quarter finals of a major tennis championship. It is taking place in the land down under.

He said after the match that ten years ago he told his parents he would become a professional tennis player. Now he is climbing one of the four steepest hills in tennis nearing the finish of the Aussie Open.

As a lifetime tennis fan it has brought tears to my eyes and hope in my heart. It has been about 15 years since our last American man, Andy Roddick, won a major. Perhaps Frances is developing into the player who will soon bring American men’s tennis back.

A Memorable College Prof

Fifty three years ago I took two quarters of organic chemistry, the toughest pre-med course I would ever take. The prof was a very short, bald, middle-aged man who zoomed around campus in a tiny, convertible, lime green, sports car.

Despite my two C’s I was accepted to a medical school from which I successfully graduated. This prof who put my medical career at risk was one of the finest teachers I had ever had. He taught me volumes about passion for your life’s work and, if you teach, a personal interest in your students’ well-being.

Not surprisingly he is still alive in his 90’s helping his students of the past whenever and wherever he can. We loved him and he loved us.

H. Robert Rubin, best selling Amazon memoirist and author of Look Backward Angel, How Did I Get Through This? and Please Save the Third Dance for Me, all available on Amazon

Hourglass by Dani Shapiro, a Book Review.

I love the genre of memoir. I have written and published three of them.

I’ve found a famous author who has written several memoirs. At first blush, the most interesting one is entitled, Hourglass. It consists of her reflections on time at midlife and marriage.

I love adding ideal quotations from others at appropriate points in my work. She does as well and does it beautifully.

Shapiro weaves a story of the ups and downs of her 18-year marriage with one child. There is also the raw pain of the fickle winds, of responses from entertainment folk, as, they are both writers, in part, for the entertainment industry.

The book is a lovely tapestry in which the reader can in many cases relate to their 18 years of marriage, raising a child to adulthood, and growing older together.

I highly recommend the memoir to the reader, particularly those who love this genre and cope with like challenges.

H. Robert Rubin, best selling Amazon memoirist with three books available on Amazon, Look Backward Angel, How Did I Get Through This? and Please Save the Third Dance for Me.

Thoughts on Relationship as We Enter the Last Year of the Teens

We are in the midst of several days of something too rare in this desert, continued rain. My spouse Kristine and I have spent 99 % of our married life together in southern California. It is a desert that is topographically not unlike modern Israel. I am 100% Ashkenazi or Eastern European Jew. She is 100% European non-Jew.

I love the desert climate here. I suppose it’s in my genes, or is that jeans, the invention of a Jewish entrepreneur in 19th century northern California, Levi.

Kris tolerates the relatively non- seasonal climate. She doesn’t like visiting the pure, desert climate of Arizona. Winters to her artistic eye (She is a painter) are too bright when the sun is shining.

It was George Bernard Shaw who claimed, “Marriage is an alliance entered into by a man who can’t sleep with the window shut, and a woman who can’t sleep with the window open. “ Sure a 41 year marriage has its obstacles.

On the other hand years of unhealthy inbreeding including my paternal grandparents, who were cousins, have been broken in our adult children. How beautifully the two disparate trees have come together in our children and figuratively in Kristine and me.  The differences are both the cause of difficulty and the foundation of the good times. Life’s like that. Don’t you think?

H. Robert Rubin, Amazon best selling memoirist with two books available on Amazon, Look Backward Angel and How Did I Get Through This?