Weinstock Among the Dying

Michael Blumenthal, Author Zoland Books $22.95 (303p) ISBN 978-0-944072-34-9
To poet Martin Weinstock, disgruntled lecturer at Harvard, the Ivy League school is a deadly place, rife with faculty suicides yet smug with an insular narrowness of vision. Blumenthal's graceful, wise, moving first novel begins as a savage, hilarious satire of academia and the literary world, then plunges into Weinstock's painstaking self-analysis, a process that sometimes becomes tedious. Weinstock, who flits joylessly from one lover to the next in comedic erotic scenes reminiscent of Philip Roth, seethes with anger and self-pity. As he recalls growing up in Manhattan, we learn that he was adopted shortly after birth by his aunt and uncle, uneducated German-Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. Weinstock discovered that his adoptive mother was really his aunt only after she died of cancer when he was ten. Through psychoanalysis, he finally comes to terms with his suppressed grief over her death, and by the book's end he confronts the legacy of his biological parents, learns to accept his feelings and becomes a father. Blumenthal, a poet and former creative writing director at Harvard, has written an engrossing narrative: death-obsessed, life-affirming and, like all good novels, resonant with meaning. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 05/01/1995
Release date: 05/01/1995
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