Jewish Noir II: A Review

The First Two Pages: “The Black and White Cookie” by Jeff Markowitz

By Art Taylor

In April 2015, B.K. Stevens debuted the blog series “The First Two Pages,” hosting craft essays by short story writers and novelists analyzing the openings of their own work. The series continued until just after her death in August 2017, and the full archive of those essays can be found at Bonnie’s website. In November 2017, the blog series relocated to my website, and the archive of this second stage of the series can be found here.

Almost immediately upon its publication in 2015, Jewish Noir was acclaimed as a landmark anthology, with editor Kenneth Wishnia gathering both historic stories and newly published tales to “explore such issues as the Holocaust and its long-term effects on subsequent generations, anti-Semitism in the mid- and late-twentieth-century United States, and the dark side of the Diaspora (the decline of revolutionary fervor, the passing of generations, the Golden Ghetto, etc.).” One of the contributors to the anthology was B.K. (Bonnie) Stevens, who joined six other contributors in writing essays for a she’d recently introduced, The First Two Pages; those other contributors were Tasha Kaminsky, Michele Lang, Alan Orloff, Travis Richardson, Steve Wishnia, and Dave Zeltserman, and you can find their essays grouped here and here.

Today marks the publication of Jewish Noir II: Tales of Crime and Other Dark Deeds by PM Press, with Chantelle Aimée Osman joining Ken Wishnia as a co-editor—and what a stellar line-up of contributors this time around as well: Gabriela Alemán, Doug Allyn, Jill D. Block, Craig Faustus Buck, Jen Conley, D.M. Evans, Robin Hemley, Ellen Kirschman, Rita Lakin, Joy Mahabir, Jeff Markowitz, Zoe Quinton, Eileen Rendahl, Rabbi Ilene Schneider, Terry Shames, A.J. Sidransky, Lizzie Skurnick, E.J. Wagner, Kenneth Wishnia, Steven Wishnia, Xu Xi 許素細, Elizabeth Zelvin, and Yigal Zur.

I was thrilled to receive an advance copy of the anthology, and I’m honored to welcome four of the contributors for new First Two Pages essays to celebrate the publication—beginning this week with Jeff Markowitz, who focuses on character’s names in his essay on “The Black and White Cookie” below. Jeff and I served together on the board for Mystery Writers of America, and it was always a joy to chat with him. He’s a great writer, but I’ve also been impressed to discover more about his work with children and adults with autism and about how one of his novellas helped raise more than $1 million dollars for children in New York. Find our more about Jeff and his amazing work at his website here.

And stay tuned for more essays ahead as well—and congratulations in the meantime to Ken, Chantelle, and everyone involved in this book on another landmark achievement.

Please use the arrows and controls at the bottom of the embedded PDF to navigate through the essay. You can also download the essay to read off-line.