April 2015 Book Recommendations

A diary about a teenager’s terrifying addiction to drugs–written by “ANONYMOUS.”

by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Crazy love, excess, and decadence among the 1920s super-rich.

by Mario Puzo
A 1969 novel that introduced the Mafia–broadly–and the Corleone family to the public.

by Lynne Truss
The British journalist “pontificates,” playfully, about punctuation and grammar.


April 2015 Book Recommendations

Jewish Lit Live! 2015 Welcomes Michelle Brafman

Michelle Brafman

The George Washington University Department of English and Jewish Lit Live! proudly present a reading by Michelle Brafman on Thursday, April 9, 2015 at 7 PM in The GW Marvin Center Amphitheater. This event is free and the public is invited.

Michelle Brafman’s short fiction has won several awards, including a special mention in the Pushcart Prize Anthology. She has written essays and stories appearing in Slate, The Washington Post, Tablet, Lilith Magazine, the minnesota review and numerous other publications. Her new novel, Washing the Dead, is slated for release at the end of April. She is currently working on a third book of fiction, a novel titled Status Change.

Jewish Lit Live! hosts rising and renowned Jewish American writers to speak with the George Washington University and literary community. Guest speakers have included emerging leaders, National Humanities Award Recipients, international bestsellers, and UN-Award Winning Writers, e.g. Michael Chabon, E.L. Doctorow, Nicole Krauss, Tony Kushner and Erica Jong.

Jewish Literature Live is made possible by the generous support of David Bruce Smith, BA ’79, a former member of GW’s Board of Trustees and an alumnus of the English Department.

Upcoming JLL Spring 2015 Author Events:
Gary Shteyngart: Thursday, April 23 Little Failure Jack Morton Auditorium 7:00 – 8:30 PM

Jewish Lit Live! Spring 2015 Schedule >>

Jewish Lit Live! 2015 Welcomes Michelle Brafman

Spotlight On Smilow Furniture’s Woven Rush Ottoman

The Woven Rush Ottoman RLO 44 was originally designed by Mel Smilow in 1955. In the same year, the Ottoman was chosen by Pratt Institute for an exhibition of well designed objects for the home.

In 2013 the Ottoman was reissued by Smilow Design, still made in America with the same fine craftsmanship and exceptional detail. In 2013 the Ottoman was chosen by Elle Decor as one of the top 10 Ottomans.

“It’s the most usable, versatile  piece of furniture,” said the Designer Benie de la Cuona, adding that the ottoman — which gets its name from a deeply cushioned low seat found in Turkey —  can work in any room in the house. Designer Brian J. McCarthy added, “Yes, you can put your feet up, but you can also put a tray on it and serve drinks.”

Made in America since 1949, there is a reason why we call Smilow Furniture: Enduring Modern Classics.

Spotlight On Smilow Furniture’s Woven Rush Ottoman

The Woven Rush Ottoman RLO 44 was originally designed by Mel Smilow in 1956 and has been reissued by Smilow Design with the finest craftsmanship and exceptional detail.

Made in America since 1949, there is a reason why we call Smilow Furniture: Enduring Modern Classics.

Spotlight On Smilow Furniture’s Woven Rush Ottoman
Spotlight On Smilow Furniture’s Woven Rush Ottoman
Spotlight On Smilow Furniture’s Woven Rush Ottoman

Testimonial #3: ‘We Knew Excellent Quality When Saw It”

Here is a third life-long-customer letter we received soon after we began reissuing Mel Smilow’s classic mid-century modern furniture.

Kudos to you, Judy Smilow, for reissuing furniture that your father designed. My late husband and I lived in Washington DC in the early to mid 60s, and when we discovered the Smilow-Thielle store in Georgetown, we thought we had died and gone to heaven. Nothing like your father’s furniture existed in DC prior to the opening of this store.

We bought (not all at once!) the bedroom suite, slatted tables, the Pedestal DR table (with extensions – the extension mechanism is still amazing to behold to this day) and six DR chairs, a rail back chair and ottoman and a rail back couch. All of the pieces are still in the family. Subsequently, we introduced my parents to Smilow-Thielle’s furniture, and they proceeded to buy slatted tables, a DR table (not the Pedestal  – another style) and six chairs, as well as a rail back couch, bedroom pieces, and two display cabinets that rested on slatted tables. Such a brilliant idea.

…. we knew excellent quality when saw it, and to be able to say that we still have these pieces after fifty years speaks to the timeless design and beautiful workmanship of all of Mel Smilow’s furnishings.

Good luck!

Mireille Key
Boulder, CO

Testimonial #3: ‘We Knew Excellent Quality When Saw It”

Grateful American™ Book Prize Attracts ‘Flood’ of Interest

A new book award, the Grateful American™ Book Prize attracted a flood of submissions when it was announced last week and continues to stir interest among authors and publishers, according to co-founder of the Prize, David Bruce Smith.

“We knew that the Prize would be well received because it is the only award for historically accurate children’s books. When we did our research in the field of children’s book awards, we found an ‘award gap.’ We were amazed that not one of the 70 or more awards presented each year honoring children’s books, none focused on this genre,” Smith said. He said that almost immediately after the story broke, “we began to see a steady stream of emails cheering us on and alerting us that book submissions were forthcoming.”

Most of the comments praised the Prize for its recognition that early learners benefit from the study of American history and that appealing works of historical nonfiction and fiction play a major role in child development. As one author noted in her email: “I take great heart in knowing that this attention is going to be focused on engaging books about American history for young readers, an area that I believe is incredibly important if we are going to help students understand the people and events that contributed to the greatness of our country.”

Dr. Bruce Cole, the former Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the co-founder of the Grateful American™ Book Prize, has described the U.S. as “a country of historical amnesiacs.” And the surveys and statistics bear him out.

Kids today are hard pressed to describe key historical documents such as the Bill of Rights or to identify important historical figures, including our founding fathers. Many don’t know the roles George Washington, Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Jefferson played in the founding of America.

Cole said that he was worried that “today’s emphasis on STEM education [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics] is making history courses less attractive to students. Math and science are the fundamentals of the high tech world in which we live, but studying American history is necessary because from the past we learn where we’ve come from and who we are. History provides an invaluable compass to the future that every student should have.”


The Grateful American™ Book Prize is the only award for excellence in writing, storytelling and illustration for children’s historical non-fiction and fiction focused on the events and personalities that have shaped the United States since the country’s founding. It consists of a $13,000 cash award in commemoration of the 13 original Colonies. It is believed to be among the highest cash awards among book prizes in general. In addition, the winner will receive a not-yet-revealed work to be created by Smith’s mother, the renowned artist Clarice Smith. Authors and publishers can get more information on the book prize’s website.

Grateful American™ Book Prize Attracts ‘Flood’ of Interest