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Ellen Meeropol on Writing Into the Gaps Left by Untold Family Stories

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“When more isn't there, or the is hidden, my imagination fills in the blanks left by small snippets of family history.” I grew up in a family reluctant to tell stories. Like Elizabeth, my grandmother who left Russia and immigrated to Brooklyn. Did she really participate in the 1905 Menshevik revolution as a young woman, as my mother claimed? Was she really exiled to Siberia and her husband (or brother or uncle) helped her escape to the US? I heard fragments of that story, but the scraps were inconsistent and few. Probably it didn't happen, my father said. My grandmother, who lived with us for the last of her life, refused to speak about Russia at all. And what about the family argument between Elizabeth and her brother? There was something about a family business and Elizabeth not being allowed to take over after her husband […]

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