Writing Our Way Home

Ted Solotaroff, Editor, Nessa Rapoport, Editor
Ted Solotaroff, Editor, Nessa Rapoport, Editor Schocken Books Inc $23 (380p) ISBN 978-0-8052-4110-5
Reviewed on: 11/02/1992
Release date: 11/01/1992
Paperback - 380 pages - 978-0-8052-1009-5
Hardcover - 978-0-517-13782-6
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These two dozen stories, all written since 1967, are linked both by the religious background of their authors and by reiterated themes that are arguably the special province of Jewish fiction. The collection contains work by Max Apple, Saul Bellow, Lore Segal, Michael Chabon, Mark Helprin, Bernard Malamud, Cynthia Ozick, Grace Paley, Philip Roth and Isaac Bashevis Singer, among others, and the writing is generally exceptional. One can find acerbic and funny observations: ``Many of Donna's Hollywood friends spoke with a schmoozing accent whether they were Jewish or not, even ex-cheerleaders from Ames, Iowa, and men named Lars,'' says a character in Michael Chabon's ``S stet no punctuation Angel.'' Others offer wry contemplations. Allen Hoffman's narrator in ``Building Blocks'' ruminates: ``And if the Temple had not been destroyed, what would Einstein have been, a camel driver in Beersheba?'' Troubling, though, is Solotaroff's introductory essay, ``The Open Community,'' in which he contends that 1967 ``marked a turning point in American Jewish consciousness and identification'' because of the Six-Day War. Even if it were true that Israel ``became the religion of American Jews, the transcendent object of their politics and philanthropy and pilgrimages''--and not all would agree with Solotaroff here--he gets into murky waters by proposing that American Jewish fiction was similarly transformed. As a collection of frequently brilliant short stories, this volume succeeds. But there is something contrived about the editor's agenda, and one is left wondering how the individual writers feel about the theory their work has been enlisted to support. (Nov.)
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