HOLLYWOOD DIVIDED BY GRAHAM DASELER 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 24
The greatest battle in Hollywood history took place on a Sunday evening in October 1950. Unlike other cinematic spectacles, however, this one featured no handsome stars. There were no arc lights either, nor props, nor stuntmen, not even cameras, just three hundred or so mostly middle-aged men gathered in a convention room off Sunset Boulevard: hardly the kind of high concept scenario to hang a blockbuster on. In fact, the drama that unfolded that night was as exciting as anything put to the screen, with plot twists, threats of violence, and a cast that included some of the most august names in cinema, including John Ford, Frank Capra, John Huston, Billy Wilder, and George Stevens. As one participant later put it, “Never in history has there been a series of occurrences affecting so many prominent men in the motion picture industry.
This essay is one that I avoided for quite some time, as I knew if I was to write about the Holocaust and my grandmother’s experience, I had to find the appropriate tone and angle. I didn’t want to simply be the messenger, and I had to shake the feeling that as a writer I was potentially capitalizing in any way on the tragedy and misfortune that plagued her early life.
What I’ve found is that her story is embedded deeply in my own, and that as her life has progressed, her experience has had a substantive impact on me and those around her. It’s important to note, then, that this story doesn’t truly end with the final period, and that my grandmother (as was the case with most survivors) continued to struggle whilst assimilating into American culture; relocating to new soil didn’t necessarily imply locating happiness.
As I delve deeper into my grandmother’s past, I find that our relationship is changing. My college writing professor would tell me when you write something true and let others read it, it shifts, because it no longer feels as if it only happened to you. I’ve experienced this with my grandmother over these past two years, and it’s helped to affirm my understanding of the power that just being a caring listener can have on another’s life.
I graduated from Connecticut College in 2012, where I studied English literature, writing, and history, and now live in Manhattan, where I’m completing my second year of Teach For America, teaching sixth graders English and writing at a charter school in Harlem. While teaching remains a tremendous passion of mine, I am always searching for chances to write.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film and Television Studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz and work today as a film editor and director in Los Angeles. My articles have been published in Senses of Cinema, Bright Lights Film Journal, Moving Arts Film Journal, Film International, and Offscreen.
I write because other than teaching, I cannot see myself doing anything else. I love it! In my New School application essay that I wrote almost ten years ago before I got my MFA there I explained it as being the only world that makes any sense to me. My previous stories and book reviews have appeared online in Toad, The American, and Ebibliotekos, and in print in From the Heart of Brooklyn Volume 2, all publications I am proud to be affiliated with. firstname.lastname@example.org
I write because, even if the world today looks different than the literary world of Hemingway, Cheever, or Carver, the slice of a powerful story across your being can still make you shiver, make you stop and gaze into nothing, as the story moves you in a way you never thought words could. I am a Graduate Teaching Fellow at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA, winner of the 2013 Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation Award for African American College Writers. My work has been published or is being published in The Conium Review, The Faircloth Review, Margins, and others. My non-fiction pieces can be found on the theology and culture blog, The Two Cities, where I am a regular contributor. Justin.Campbell@lmu.edu
I wrote academic books during the 34 years I taught at the University of New Orleans and Murray State University (The Poem in Question 1983, Hamlet in My Mind’s Eye 1987, Murder Most Fair 2000). After retiring I started writing personal essays and have been publishing them since 2006. Certain activities—golf, flying small planes, birding, starwatching, sailing—are ones I associate with good times with people I love. This is especially true of golf, and in A Round with Friends I try to give an overview of the places I’ve played and the people who’ve made me most content.
I am in my third and final year at the University of Idaho’s MFA program in creative nonfiction. I have an essay at civileats.com and I was the recipient of the Jacqueline Award for Prose from my alma mater, Wellesley College, in 2006.
I am a writer, curator, and educator based in New York, where I teach at The New School. My work has appeared in a wide range of venues, including MIT Galleries, Queens Museum of Art, the Town Hall Galleries in Stuttgart, Camera Obscura, Folly Magazine, On Site Review, Bosphorous Art Quarterly, Wintethur Portfolio, and Art Documentation.
I am writing much more than I did while I was working. I find it slow and difficult work, but I love the challenge of trying to put down on paper (or, on the screen) words that precisely state what I mean or what I saw, what I felt, etc. I love the challenge of laying out a story so its drama builds continuously but not too fast; of luring the reader on by dropping hintsof things to come; of crafting the last words of each paragraph into an intriguing or beautiful sentence.
Above all, what I have discovered as I have been writing essays these last two years is a voice that feels authentic and that seems to integrate the parts of me that had written fiction and political analysis into a larger whole. My essays have appeared in Written River, Spooky Action at a Distance, Eunoia Review, and Down in the Dirt Magazine, and I am hoping to publish a collection of essays in the next year. I really think that voice is the key issue for every writer, and that once you find your voice, the result is bound to be interesting.
I wrote Darling Betsy after the Sandy Hook shooting tragedy. Initially, it was a much different story; I was too close to the material. Over the summer, I distanced myself and experimented with form and dialogue. Instead of writing a story about gun control, as I originally intended, I questioned how a young woman might respond if faced with a potentially dangerous situation. Then I started thinking about female friendships, and loyalty, and I created two witnesses.
This is my fourth year teaching writing full-time at Montclair State University. I love the work and this year I am also directing our Live Literature series, which showcases the work of instructors who teach at Montclair, as well as local authors.
My stories have been published in literary journals, most recently in Fringe Magazine. I received my MFA in fiction writing from the University of South Carolina, and now live in New Jersey with my son and husband.