Culture and Society
There isn’t really a reset button for life — a switch you can hit, after you’ve gone through something terrible, that lets you go back to the beginning and start over. But there should be.
After World War II Congress voted to allow thousands of European war refugees into the U.S. Whenever a ship carrying these “displaced persons,” as they were called, came into New York City, Kalischer would go to the harbor to take pictures of the new arrivals. He had come here as a refugee himself not long before, at the age of twenty-one, and he recognized the fear and expectation in the faces of the men, women, and children.
Well honed by disappointment, my instincts told me this book contract was not going to work out (it wasn’t) and that the philosophical differences I had with my editor were not going to be resolved (they weren’t). But at the age of forty-three and looking at my first — and maybe last — realistic shot at a career in letters, I was like an old dog not yet willing to let go of a bone.
Even at the peak of my methamphetamine days, I would have had trouble talking for seven hours. I aim to please, however. A longing to please is both my weakness and my strength. It’s why I cook, why I write, why I take five years to get a sentence right, why I’m so goofily polite, why I reply to fan letters from prisoners.
In 2015 more than a million refugees came to Europe seeking asylum. Most were fleeing the fighting in Syria and Iraq or escaping Taliban rule in Afghanistan. Bringing only what they could carry, many crossed the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece before continuing on to wealthier countries such as Germany and Sweden.