You Are My Heart: And Other Stories

Jay Neugeboren. Two Dollar Radio (Consortium, dist.), $16 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-0-9826848-8-7
Neugeboren's dry latest (after novel 1940) finds a few brief moments of inspiration in its explorations of faith, Brooklyn, medicine, and politics. Characters overcome tough Brooklyn childhoods, work abroad as doctors, and encounter bigotry in New York City and small towns in France. In the title story, the Jewish high schooler–narrator falls in love with his black friend's sister, only to have both their families and friends sabotage the relationship. In "State of Israel," an American doctor in France undergoes an eye operation conducted by a surgeon of "Middle Eastern origin" who shares, postsurgery, his political views about the existence of Israel. Through Marty, the teenage Brooklyn narrator of "Lakewood, New Jersey," we meet Joey, the adopted cousin he looks up to, a war hero who goes into the garment business and does well, but never escapes his demons. In the strongest story, "A Missing Year: Letter to My Son," a man confesses to having wanted to murder his son and himself. The tone is elevated, and the voice confident despite the morose subject matter, but, unfortunately, it's not representative of a collection in which too much of the material feels thin and reportorial, content to follow a narrative but not make it felt. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/21/2011
Release date: 05/01/2011
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