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Issac Bashevis Singer Centennial Celebration at Skirball Center

Location: Skirball Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles
In Person: Leonard Nimoy, Paul Mazursky, Kenneth Turan

We cast a pretty wide net when it comes to covering “Fantasy Films, Mystery Movies, Haunted Happenings and Sci-Fi Cinema Events” in and around Hollywood, but you may think we’ve cast the net a bit too wide by mentioning the Isaac Bashevis Singer event at the Skirball Center today at 2:00pm. Singer, of course, was one of the most talented writers of the 20th century. Although well respected in literary circles, Singer is perhaps most well known to the general public because of two films, YENTL and ENEMIES: A LOVE STORY, that were adapted from his works.

So, why mention this event here? Two reasons: 1) Star Trek fans may be interested in knowing that part of the event will include actor Leonard Nimoy (Spock on the original televsion series) reading “Gimple the Fool.” 2) Singer’s fiction, stepped in Jewish tradition, are filled with fantasy and supernatural elements that often seep into horror territory.

Ghosts, phantoms, and demons often show up in his work — sometimes real, sometimes imagined. In the best tradition of Rod Serling’s TWILIGHT ZONE, Singer frequently dealt with ordinary people trapped in extraordinary circumstances — wierd situations that defy rational explanation. Often, the supernatural manifestations serve as literary devices, externalizing the inner demons plaguing the human characters.

So, even though Singer may not have been Stephen King, among his vouminous output are numerous excellent fantasy and horror stories. Unfortunately, today’s event probably will not highlight this element of Singer’s work, but we thought we would use the Skirball Center celebration of the author as an excuse to draw your attention to some excellent fiction.

If you’re looking for a place to start, you might try finding a copy of the short story collection SHORT FRIDAY. About half the tales are supernatural/mystical, including “The Last Demon;” “Alone” (a man gets his wish to be alone on his vacation, finding himself in a deserted hotel with a sinister woman he believes to be a witch); “Esther Kreindel the Second” (a young girl claims to be the reincarnation of a widowed man’s late wife; eventually, his family accepts her as their mother); “The Fast” (a divorced couple are tortured by ghostly visions of each other); and “Blood” (a sinister tale of passion and sin). There’s also a comical story called “Taible and her Demon,” in which a man carries on an affair with a woman while pretending to be a demon.

Steve Biodrowski, Administrator

A graduate of USC film school, Steve Biodrowski has worked as a film critic, journalist, and editor at Movieline, Premiere, Le Cinephage, The Dark Side., Cinefantastique magazine, Fandom.com, and Cinescape Online. He is currently Managing Editor of Cinefantastique Online and owner-operator of Hollywood Gothique.