Last night a rather large crowd filled the lecture hall at the Jewish Community Center in Oak Park to hear journalist Steve Luxenberg discuss his book Annie’s Ghosts. As part of the 2009 Jewish Book Fair he was required to audition with a two minute pitch for the Jewish Book Council in hopes of securing a spot on the ticket. Selected from a pool including 59 other author applicants, Mr. Luxenberg did not disappoint as he provided us with an engaging slide show and book discussion surrounding the topic of “secrets”.
Despite the “confessional culture of America”, Mr. Luxenberg shared his firsthand knowledge of the depths and layers of secrecy that can exist within the confines of our own homes. With the investigation of his own mother, Mr. Luxenberg painstakingly peeled back layer after layer of half-truths and falsehoods that accumulated over the course of his mother’s lifetime thus compelling him to write Annie’s Ghosts.
Though Annie’s Ghost’s is “not a book of judgement” on Luxenberg’s mother, he ultimately poses the questions “Do we control our secrets, or do our secrets control us?” and “When do you release a secret?” When asked why the story was Annie’s Ghosts instead of Annie’s Ghost, Mr. Luxenberg responded that these secrets, these lies, “are the ghosts that haunt all of our lives.”
Utilizing his journalistic prowess, Steve Luxenberg takes his readers on a serious journey as he tracks back through time to prove the existence of an aunt he never knew. Shedding light on “Eloise”, the institution outside of Detroit that at one point housed some 9,000 residents, Mr. Luxenberg opened his arms to anyone who might have lost touch with relations.
The Detroit Jewish Book Fair continues through Sunday and offers works from several prominent authors. Other appearances include Francine Prose, Neal Bascomb, Jack Jacobs, Kati Marton, Jeffrey Zaslow and many more.