Dancing on Tisha B'Av

Lev Raphael, Author St. Martin's Press $16.95 (231p) ISBN 978-0-312-04862-4
Tisha B'Av (the Ninth of the Hebrew month of Ab), which commemorates the destruction of both Jerusalem temples, is observed by fasting and public mourning. In the title story of Raphael's first collection, a gay student has been publicly humiliated in a university synagogue. Furious and frustrated, he lashes out at God and his own commitment to Judaism by dancing on the holiday. Raphael's characters, struggling to find identities as Jews, gays or children of Holocaust survivors, are angry, humorless and largely self-absorbed. Although message dominates plot in most of the tales, when the author permits personalities and events to play themselves out, he creates a more natural and sympathetic setting for his themes. In ``War Stories,'' a remote, morose New York cab driver believes he is his family's sole survivor. When a cousin long thought dead enters his cab, he is transformed; he can finally break down and express his emotions. In ``Abominations , '' on the other hand, in which the characters in the title story are reencountered, Raphael errs into overemphasis: the torching of the gay student's dormitory room is compared by his sister to the Holocaust's conflagrations. Here as in other stories, Raphael forgets that people's lives can be interesting, instructive and important without the explicit ascription of cosmic significance. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-312-06326-9
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-85449-178-0
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