The Book of Hertha

By Gretchen Elsner-Sommer

The imaginary journal of Gretchen’s great-aunt Hertha’s round the world journey, 1918-1922.

Hertha Gretsch Passport Photo July 8, 1924

Edited by David William Cohen

and Heather Gretsch Roller

8.5″x8.5″ 139 pages

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“. . .and then suddenly she became a writer, always said she would be a writer some day when she had time when the children were grown, when she wasn’t working so assiduously at not-for-profit organizations. But the truth was that there had been little pockets of time she had fits and starts but never really started. She was sort of believing she never would be a writer because in fact she didn’t write. . .she only thought about writing. . .then suddenly. . .she started writing. . .she would hear it all inside her head before she wrote it down and nothing else mattered. She wrote and wrote all the time, the backs of envelopes, the insides of theater program books—she wrote the words from inside her head. And as she wrote she began to feel better. The sadness was still there but it was somehow a different kind of sadness much deeper inside of her. It was something that she was protecting and sheltering and taking care of by writing. Something that wasn’t slowing her down and stopping her. And she protected it and protected herself by her writing. Aware of it always like one is aware of a care or a concern but not stopped by it or immobilized by it. As long as she kept writing it was okay because by writing she was paying close attention to herself in a way that she had always wanted others to pay attention to her.”