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Apr. 17th, 2019

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Brief review: The Rabbi of Lud by Stanley Elkin

I'm taking a break from reading and reviewing new books to catch up with some old ones on my TBR list. I'm also trying to improve my Hebrew and am currently reading and enjoying the Hebrew edition of Ya'akov Shabtai's unfinished last novel סוף דבר (published in English as Past Perfect).



In circumstances when I cannot read with my eyes I read with my ears. I just finished listening to the audiobook of The Rabbi of Lud by Stanley Elkin, a writer of whom I became aware while reading his friend William H. Gass while preparing to review The William H. Gass Reader. My brief review of The Rabbi of Lud appears on Goodreads.









Crossposted from Dreamwidth where my user name is the same as it is here.

Jan. 24th, 2019

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Book review: Muck by Dror Burstein








“... readers will enjoy this funny, imaginative, and handsomely crafted novel first and foremost as a memorable work of literature, and as such it deserves to reach a wide audience.” -- From my review of Muck by Dror Burstein in New York Journal of Books

Crossposted from Dreamwidth where my user name is the same as it is here.

Nov. 7th, 2018

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Book review: The William H. Gass Reader




 



"According to Gass a total aesthete reduces everything to style; the centrality of moral and ethical issues in his writing proves that Gass is not merely an aesthete. Whether or not they agree with him his readers will never be cognitively malnourished, and his poetic prose is a joy to read even when its vision is pessimistic." -- From my review of The William H. Gass Reader in New York Journal of Books Crossposted from Dreamwidth where my user name is the same as it is here.

Jun. 4th, 2018

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Book review: The Mandela Plot by Kenneth Bonert

"South African born Jewish-Canadian author Kenneth Bonert’s sophomore effort The Mandela Plot is a sequel to his multiple awards winning debut novel The Lion Seeker (also reviewed on NYJB) that continues the Helger family saga begun in the earlier volume in a rather dark combination coming of age story and political thriller. A concluding epilogue in the final fifth of the novel includes commentary on post-Apartheid South Africa in general and the predicament of its Jewish citizens in particular." -- From my review of The Mandela Plot by Kenneth Bonert in New York Journal of Books 









Crossposted from Dreamwidth where my user name is the same as it is here.

May. 11th, 2018

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Book review: Late Beauty: Poems by Tuvia Ruebner

"Readers who devoured In the Illuminated Dark will welcome the additional poems in Late Beauty, and for readers unacquainted with Ruebner’s poetry Late Beauty provides a portal." -- From my review of Late Beauty: Selected Poems of Tuvia Ruebner translated from the Hebrew by Lisa Katz and Shahar Bram in New York Journal of Books









Crossposted from Dreamwidth where my user name is the same as it is here.

Mar. 21st, 2018

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Book review: The Diamond Setter

"well written, masterfully translated by Jessica Cohen, and rewards rereading." -- From my review of The Diamond Setter by Moshe Sakal in New York Journal of Books










Crossposted from Dreamwidth where my user name is the same as it is here.

Mar. 7th, 2018

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Book review: Empty Set by Veronica Gerber Bicecci

"Veronica Gerber Bicecci’s debut novel, second book and her first translated into English, Empty Set (Conjunto vacío), has multiple dualities—the verbal and the visual, the analytic and the emotional, autobiography and fiction—that aspire to convey ineffable sums greater than their constituent parts." -- From my review of Empty Set by Veronica Gerber Bicecci in New York Journal of Books




 


Crossposted from Dreamwidth where my user name is the same as it is here.

Feb. 7th, 2018

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Book Review: Petty Business by Yirmi Pinkus

"Petty Business, the second of Yirmi Pinkus’ five novels and the first to be published in English, satirically portrays the life of a family of Tel Aviv store owners with both fondness and humor over one year—1989, a time in which neighborhood mom and pop stores were being put out of business by larger chain and department stores, just as the latter are now under pressure from Internet vendors.

"... The novel’s title in the original Hebrew edition is the Aramaic phrase Bi’zer Anpin, which means 'on a small scale, in miniature,' and this family and their enterprises are a microcosm of a lower-middle class retail subculture at the end of an era.

"Overseas Pinkus is better known as cartoonist, and his book cover illustration of bathers in the waterpark swimming pool provides a preview of his satirical take on that subculture whose narrative portrait is also poignant. Pinkus’ mastery of language is every bit equal to that of his visual medium, and translators Evan Fallenberg and Yardena Greenspan do a fine job of conveying his varied prose into English." -- from my review of Petty Business by Yirmi Pinkus in New York Journal of Books

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Crossposted from Dreamwidth where my user name is the same as it is here.

Feb. 4th, 2018

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Book review: The Ruined House by Ruby Namdar

"One of the lessons this complicated book conveys is how difficult it is to achieve the golden mean, balancing a serious writer’s need for solitude to reduce distractions with the need to stay connected and involved with one’s family and loved ones on the one hand, and integrating knowledge and appreciation for global culture with an intimate involvement with one’s particular tradition and civilization on the other. If the consequences of failing to achieve those balances are not as dire for most of us as they are for Andrew, nonetheless many of us would benefit from a closer examination and recalibration. Extending the metaphor on a national and international scale to include the 9/11 attack may seem like a stretch, or is it?" -- From my review of The Ruined House by Ruby Namdar in New York Journal of Books






The Ruined House book cover

Crossposted from Dreamwidth where my user name is the same as it is here.

Dec. 22nd, 2017

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Book review: North Station by Bae Suah








"One way to view these stories is as philosophical essays in fictional form that address some of the same philosophical, psychological, spiritual, aesthetic, cultural, and societal topics and concerns that are found in Bae’s longer fiction. But by devoting each story to only two or three of those topics and freed from a longer work’s overarching narrative the stories address those issues in even greater depth and convey them with poetic prose of comparable beauty to that found in her previous books in English translation. Compared to them this book has an even higher degree of difficulty—with abrupt linguistic changes in voice, number, and/or gender and multiple starting, stopping, and resuming narrative threads—that demand highly focused concentration but like them reward rereading." -- From my review of North Station by Bae Suah in New York Journal of Books

Crossposted from Dreamwidth where my user name is the same as it is here.

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