Summer 2005 • Vol. XXVII No. 3 Nonfiction |

Excerpt from “War, Sex, and Dreams”: Chapter One

My image of that earliest time: an enchanted garden where Mami and I live alone together and nothing bad can happen. From the balcony of our living room, I fish for bright cardboard fish. Standing on the short steep cement driveway of our building, I smell the delicious odor of gasoline while staring at a rectangle of red tulips. In a gilt-edged baby book my mother, Mami (pronounced mah-MEE), records the first time she takes me to the shore: 1938—I’m two. She promised I’d see la mer, the sea—which sounds like la mere, the mother. From Brussels where we live we drive three hours to the shore. Standing on the beach facing the waves of the North Sea, I’m bewildered. I ask, “Ou est la mere?—Where’s the mother?” “Right there in front of you.” Amazed, I exclaim, “La mere est dans la mer!”—“The mother’s in the sea!” Mami—Marthe Mathilde Caroline Levy—is born in Brussels on December 22, 1912. She grows up in a tall, thin, reddish, crenellated h

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JEAN-CLAUDE VAN ITALLIE’s more than thirty plays include America Hurrah, The Serpent (with the Open Theatre), The Tibetan Book of the Dead, and Light. Author of Chekhov, the Major Plays and The Playwright’s Workbook, director of Shantigar Foundation for theater, meditation, and healing, van Itallie teaches workshops internationally.

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