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Photo: L Dorfman, Creative Commons

Once upon a time, there was a land threatened by a new and unknown plague.

Informed of this threat, the president convened a team of expert medical advisors. Then he called a meeting with the leaders of the two main political parties, all of whom went on TV together calling on the nation to unite and fight this threat, the way they fought fascism in WW2 and terrorism after 9/11.

The leaders wore masks — mostly red-white-and-blue masks, although one spunky left-wing politician wore a mask saying “Medicare for All” and am equally fervent right-wing politician wore one saying “Protect…


What can Moby Dick tell us about Trump and his enablers?

I haven’t learned to make bagels or organized my 10,000 digital photos as a Covid quarantine project, but I did just re-read Moby Dick for the first time since college.

I didn’t go into it looking for this—politics was the last thing on my mind—but I couldn’t help reading it through the lens of Our Current Terrible Situation.

Trump is Ahab, the monomaniacal ship captain who is willing to destroy everything for a personal obsession. In Ahab’s case, that obsession is vengeance against the white whale that took his leg; in Trump’s case it is self-aggrandizement.

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Ahab rejects all warnings


If George R.R. Martin rewrote the classics of English literature a la Game of Thrones…

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Illustration by Rebecca Schuchat

Pride and Prejudice

Elizabeth Bennett is engaged to Fitzwilliam Darcy, but Darcy’s aunt Lady Catherine de Bourgh disapproves and hires mercenaries from the Golden Company to slaughter the entire engagement party. Elizabeth’s friend Charlotte Lucas vows revenge, travels across the sea to apprentice with a cult of assassins, and decapitates Lady Catherine with a garden rake.

Mrs. Dalloway

Clarissa Dalloway is throwing a party, and her daughter’s tutor, a religious enthusiast, tells her the party will fail unless she sacrifices her daughter to the Lord…


When I was a kid, I read a lot of DC superhero comics — Superman leaping tall buildings with a single bound, Batman with his masked identity, The Flash with his speed, Wonder Woman with her Amazon strength and magical accessories.

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I’m currently revising a set of two novels. Revision is the least fun part of writing for me. Basically, I hate it. So sometimes I wish I had a set of Revision Superpowers:

X-ray vision

Even when we know something is a rough draft, the words assume a stubborn permanence once they’re on paper. How do we make ourselves view our…


We took an overnight train with a first-class sleeper compartment from Prague to Krakow. Starched white sheets on the bunk beds; bottles of water by our private sink; the conductor promising a wake-up call and our choice of coffee or tea before we arrived.

I lay in my cozy bunk, feeling the rhythmic rocking of the car, and I kept thinking:

We are Jews on a train to Auschwitz.

Oswiecim – the Polish town that predated the camp and gave the camp its infamous German name – was one of the stops around 4 a.m. on our very-local train route…

Ilana DeBare

Former newspaper reporter at the S.F. Chronicle and Sacramento Bee, now working on fiction. Visit my blog at midlifebatmitzvah.wordpress.com.

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