NEWS FROM THE NEW AMERICAN DIASPORA: And Other Tales of Exile

Jay Neugeboren, Author . Univ. of Texas $16 (166p) ISBN 978-0-292-70661-3

From Ukraine to Brooklyn and from Brooklyn to western Massachusetts and Florida, wandering Jews stray far from their geographical, cultural and spiritual homes in Neugeboren's assured third collection of stories (after Corky's Brother and Don't Worry About the Kids ). His characters exhibit complex symptoms of their displacement, self-imposed or otherwise, in these tales about memory and dislocation, many of which are framed as reminiscences. In "Poppa's Books," one of the collection's most moving stories, two sons, age five and eight, are buffeted between their immigrant parents, an impoverished book peddler who was an honored and learned man in the old country and a woman warped with bitterness over her husband's failure to achieve the American dream. A desolate, modern-day Amherst, Mass., is the setting for "Good in Bed," in which a middle-aged, Brooklyn-born academic finds comfort in the arms of an Italian-Catholic grad student when his gentile wife demands a divorce. In "Lev Kogan's Journey," Neugeboren eloquently captures another Massachusetts man's conflicted sense of peoplehood when a charming Soviet refusenik seduces him and his family in more ways than one. Though a few pieces (e.g., the title story) read as more labored and self-conscious, this is an evocative collection from a confident storyteller. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/18/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
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