History on a Personal Note

Binnie Kirshenbaum, Author
Binnie Kirshenbaum, Author Fromm International $10 (178p) ISBN 978-0-88064-169-2
Paperback - 175 pages - 978-0-06-052089-2
Open Ebook - 192 pages - 978-0-06-182635-1
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 192 pages - 978-0-06-182648-1
Ebook - 192 pages - 978-0-06-182639-9
Ebook - 192 pages - 978-0-06-197692-6
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Deceptively light in tone, these stories nevertheless carry weight, as do the characters, transplanted Southerner Lorraine and her unnamed friend, the Jewish woman from New York City who narrates several of the stories. In ``Halfway to Farmville,'' the pair buy a couple of wigs at a Goodwill store, don outlandish clothing and sunglasses and, speaking only French, browse for antiques in backwoods Virginia. This may sound like a lark, but Lorraine, who is married to an alcoholic redneck, is struggling against a paralyzing depression and her friend has an unspecified, possibly fatal disease. They are self-described outsiders, whether in the former East Germany or in the town where The Andy Griffith Show was filmed. A wide variety of styles and voices, from an unabashedly sentimental tribute to the narrator's parents to wry and acerbic stories of the Jewish immigrant experience, demonstrate Kirshenbaum's versatility and wit. Several exquisite period pieces set in the 1960s, nostalgically re-create a suburban middle-class childhood, often evoking the shock of recognition while irreverently skewering the notion that childhood--or the Kennedys' Camelot, or the anti-Vietnam War years--was ever a time of innocence. (Apr.)
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