Total Immersion: Stories

Allegra Goodman, Author HarperCollins Publishers $16.95 (260p) ISBN 978-0-06-015998-6
This exhilarating collection of 11 short stories marks the debut of a precocious 21-year-old Radcliffe College student. Most of Goodman's characters are observant Jews living in a believably rendered Oxford, England or Honolulu, Hawaii. While committed to fixed principles, these people must adapt to a shifting, alien and seductive world. Without ridicule, Goodman satirizes characters whose predicaments she, and most readers, share. In one story, a brilliant scholar must return to her roots not because she suddenly perceives the value of her culture but because her parents squander her tuition on a sister's wedding. In others, by turns grim and hilarious, reality and ideas clash in timeless fashion. But there is hope: ``Improvement counts . . . you can all redeem yourself on the final,'' says French professor Sandra Lefkowitz in the title story; like her students, she is trying to find her place in an alien college community. Yet Goodman does not hinge her narratives on a single epiphany. She has an insight into human nature well beyond her chronological years, and, as evidenced here, a concise but resonant writing style that more mature writers might strive to emulate. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/30/1989
Release date: 05/01/1989
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-385-33299-6
Open Ebook - 151 pages - 978-0-307-78672-2
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