Around the time I first read Aharon Appelfeld’s Unto the Soul (1994), I was just barely starting to write about Jews. My first published short story starred an old Yankee in Maine whose very name, Mr. Seed, invoked the sort of rootedness I’d always longed for. I’d grown up in New England, too, but my parents were outsiders. They hadn’t been raised to fish or sail or ski, and our attempts to do such things often met with disaster, a pattern I couldn’t help but associate with our being Jewish.