Thane Rosenbaum, Author . HarperCollins $25.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-018490-2

A half-dozen ghosts of famous literary figures return to New York to help unblock a Jewish writer in Rosenbaum's intriguing but undisciplined second novel (after Second Hand Smoke), which begins with the suicide of a pair of elderly Holocaust survivors, Lothar and Rose Levin. Their deaths prove devastating to their son, Oliver, a successful author who was already struggling with a serious case of writer's block when his wife, Samantha, left him. Oliver's 14-year-old daughter, Ariel, responds to her father's struggles by conjuring up an illustrious group of literary golems who committed suicide in the wake of the Holocaust—a group that includes the likes of Primo Levi and Jerzy Kosinski, as well as Oliver's deceased parents. They quickly provide Oliver with the inspiration to write a serious Holocaust novel as they commit various acts of mayhem around the city, and their rehabilitation project coincides with the rise of Ariel, a prodigal klezmer violinist whose talent lands her a gig at a major New York venue. Rosenbaum's far-fetched modern fairy tale is entertaining, despite some sappy moments, but his focus wanders frequently, particularly when he goes off on tangents about the golems as they work their strange magic. Moreover, he never comes close to capturing the essence of the writers, and by the end of the book they are little more than literary clowns. The author's passion for his subject permeates these pages, but it will be tough for this book to earn an audience beyond readers who share Rosenbaum's devotion to keeping the lessons of the Holocaust alive. Agent, Ellen Levin. (Feb. 10)

Reviewed on: 12/17/2001
Release date: 02/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-06-095945-6
Ebook - 384 pages - 978-0-06-211985-8
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