Julian Padowicz was seven years old, Jewish, and living in Warsaw, Poland, when WWII began. After 6 months under Soviet occupation in southern Poland, he and his mother made a daring trek over the Carpathian Mountains into neutral Hungary. Arriving in America at the age of 9, Julian spent the next 13 years in boarding school and college, where his undiagnosed ADD and Dyslexia caused him considerable grief.
Graduating from Colgate University in 1954 with a BA in English, he was hired by Twentieth-Century Fox studios as editor of their company magazine, “Action.”
From 1955 to 1959 he served in the Air Force as a navigator and intercept instructor.
Following military service, he entered the documentary film profession, first as a writer and eventually as director, cameraman, editor, and producer, garnering numerous awards.
Upon retirement in 2000, Padowicz began writing a 4-part memoir of his WWII experiences. The first book, Mother and Me: Escape from Warsaw 1939 was published in 2006 by Academy Chicago and named “Book of the Year” by ForeWord Magazine. It was followed by A Ship in the Harbor, Loves of Yulian, and When the Diamonds Were Gone. A “young readers’” version of Mother and Me, published by Scholastic Inc. was a best seller in the school field.
Feeling that much of what was interesting in his life was not publishable as memoir, for fear of hurting people still living, Padowicz created the fictional village of Venice on the Massachusetts coast and peopled it with characters based on people he had known, including himself. Applying humor, which he calls his “weapon of choice,” Padowicz has written several novels in which these fictional characters go through many of the experiences he, himself, has gone through. His hero, Kip, is a retired college professor, married to his creative, but accident prone wife, the lovely Amanda, and trying to lead a “normal” life, in a new community, among whacky neighbors and whackier friends from his past. Padowicz lives in a 100 plus-year-old house in Stamford, Connecticut with his wife, Donna Carter. Their blended family includes 5 children, 9 grandchildren, and 2 great-grands.
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From his miserable childhood to his mediocre career as a college professor, fate had not been kind, or even terribly fair, to “Kip” Kippur. But Kipʼs luck changes when he inherits a house in a small coastal village in Massachusetts. He chucks his previous life and moves there to write the Great American Novel—a thinly disguised autobiography.
As Kip struggles to transmute a leaden life into golden fiction, he finds himself alone and rudderless in a strange community. He stumbles into a mysterious murder, an awkward romance, a married lady's hot-tub, an unusual proposal of marriage—and an invitation to sail to Florida, during storm season, in a sailboat of questionable seaworthiness, with an autocratic captain and a homicidal crew mate.
But Writerʼs Block is more than just the tale of a late-life crisis gone terribly awry. Itʼs also an intriguing portrait of a small town and the complex people who inhabit it. It will keep you riveted all the way to its crashing conclusion.
What people are saying...
"This is somewhat of a difficult review to write because Writer’s Block by Julian Padowicz is very different from anything I have read before. I read the book based on two factors. One was the section about the author; the other was my interest in books written about or from the perspective of a writer. What was even more intriguing about this book was that there was an interesting dynamic in the author of the book, the author in the book, the book I was reading, and the one the author in the book was writing. I didn’t know what to expect and was pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed this story. The book is not really fast paced and there isn’t a lot of action until closer to the end. The story being told, though, is just that, a story of a man nearing the end of his life, trying to decide what to do now, and contemplating how he got to where he is at the present moment in the tale.
One of the first things you have to understand, before you read this book, is where the author is coming from. Julian Padowicz is from Poland where he and his mother fled during the rise of Nazi Germany in WWII. He attended boarding school, and then college, became involved in writing and producing, and then focused his later years on his books. The protagonist in the story, Kip, is a man who fled with his mother from Munich during the Nazi regime in WWII. Kip was sent off to boarding school, attended college, became a professor, and is facing retirement. He wants to write a book about a little boy who flees German occupation with his mother during WWII as a child, comes to America, and is sent to a boarding school.
This is what had me so intrigued. Julian didn’t want his story to be dry, and thus made it fictional. His fictional character, Kip, didn’t want his story to be too boring and was writing a fictional book reflecting his life. This is why I think it is important to understand a bit about the author before really enjoying this book to the full extent. Kip finds himself given the chance to leave his comfortable, although lonely, life and situation at the college where he lives and teaches. The college is updating and becoming more modern, and the opportunity ends up being well placed. He is hesitant and thinks back on what all he has done at the college, his successes and failures, before deciding to make the move and retire in a laid back atmosphere writing his story. Kip, though, does end up finding himself in interesting situations and adventures that I don’t want to spoil.
I really did enjoy this book. I would have to say, if I was to compare it to anything I have read before, perhaps it would be closer to a much, much milder Secret Window by Stephen King. You have an author, with a drama speckled past, struggling to write about something that reflects his own life while facing issues with his past dramas. The story has a good flow, even when it flashes back to times remembered or jumps ahead through a time in his life. I felt like I got an understanding of Kip. The main character was likable and I think the supporting characters build the correct image for who they were in his life. No one was too flat or boring, all of them stood out in one way or another.
There wasn’t much I disliked about this story at all. I don’t normally read books like this; there is some mystery and intrigue but not my usual level. In all, I do believe Padowicz did a wonderful job. I am very glad I decided to read this little gem and I easily give it 4 out of 4 stars."
- Mune for OnlineBookClub.org