San Francisco, for all that city’s rent chaos and interweb madness, still has one of the most productive, experimental, and lovably dysfunctional writers’ communities in the world. In the top echelon is Sherilyn Connelly, gothic princess, writer of unrestrained imagination, and (according to this woman at the post office last year) a dead ringer for Daryl Hannah in Blade Runner.
And she’s got about as much to do with Judaism as a polar bear.
Anyway: color me surprised when Sherilyn sends me an email linking to a new story she’s written called “Impurim” that’s basically a cover version of the Megillah. For all her ignorance of Judaism (she introduces the story by saying, “I had never even heard of Purim when the Beyt Tikkun Synagogue asked me to write and perform a revisionist version of The Magillah, the Book of Esther from the Bible”) she does remarkably well on the tone and beats of the story, down to the tongue-in-cheekness rubbing right up against an almost holy tone of unholiness — I don’t know; I could make lots of cracks about how the most qualified person Beyt Tikkun could find to perform at their Purim function isn’t even Jewish, but they knew what they were doing. This is good.
It all started when word spread that King Achashverosh was looking for a new queen. The details about what happened to Vashti, the old queen, were a little vague. Some said she’d been killed. Others swore she’d been banished, or ran away. A few people insisted that she’d never existed in the first place, and that the search was going to result in yet another imaginary queen. Achashverosh was known to be something of an odd bird, so that wouldn’t have been much of a surprise.
Did I mention that Vashti has become a recurring character in her short stories? Consider this a request for more.
Pronounced: PUR-im, the Feast of Lots, Origin: Hebrew, a joyous holiday that recounts the saving of the Jews from a threatened massacre during the Persian period.