A piercing elegy, a poetic meditation: An evening with Adam Mansbach

by | Nov 29, 2021 | What’s Happening

Wednesday, December 8, 7:30 pm, online

Adam Mansbach is mostly known for fiction writing. He is the author of a #1 New York Times bestselling “children’s book” series that is, in fact, meant for adults in the throes of parenting who need a good laugh. His dry comedy has also propelled him into the world of television; he is the screenwriter of the 2016 Netflix Original BARRY—which stars Saturday Night Live alum Bill Hader and Henry Winkler.

Nearly a decade ago, at the beginning of an extensive media tour, Mansbach received a phone call that changed his life. His father uttered the words, “David has taken his own life” and a chasm was opened beneath his feet. In the shadow of his brother’s inexplicable death, Mansbach was forced to reckon with the ghost of someone he thought he knew.

Mansbach’s brother’s story is in his most recent publishing work. In the poem, I Had A Brother Once, he confronts his unsettled family history, his distant relationship with tradition and faith, and how he might reconcile with the desperate need to understand an event that always escapes his grasp.

For eight years, Mansbach thought about how he might approach writing about his brother. As a novelist and screenwriter, he tried to box his brother’s story into a novel or screenplay, but always stopped short, blocked by the set rules and rigidity of those formats. Then, two years ago, after writing an elegy for a musician, Mansbach was reminded of the power in poetry. His poetic elegy breaks down the barriers that formerly held him back from writing, finally allowing the depth of an emotionally intense process that led to telling his brother’s story.

Join Adam Mansbach—novelist, humorist, and poet—as he shares excerpts from his new memoir, I Had a Brother Once. Presented by the Konikoff Center for Learning at the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, as a part of the Simon Family JCC’s Lee and Bernard Jaffe Family Jewish Book Festival.

For more information or to register visit JewishVA.org/BookFest or contact Sierra Lautman, director of Jewish Innovation, at SLautman@ujft.org or 757-965-6107.

-Sierra Lautman