The Dark Lady from Belorusse: A Memoir

Jerome Charyn, Author Thomas Dunne Books $18.95 (112p) ISBN 978-0-312-16808-7
Charyn's portrait of his adored mother and his early life in New York City's East Bronx is so romantically enhanced that its characters and events appear more mythic than real. His mother, whom he continually refers to as ""the dark lady,"" as if she's the heroine of a Greek epic, was ""so defiantly beautiful that [when they walked together] all transactions stopped, and we'd enter a slow-motion world where women, men, children, dogs, cats, and firemen... would look at her with such longing... that I felt like some usurper who was carrying her off to another hill."" Fannie--Faigele to her friends--glitters in the silver fox coat her furrier husband made for her, but the reader never gets inside that coat or that beauty. The dark lady is often involved in the strange affairs of gamblers or having spells of amnesia, unaware of her young son, who looks after her, the house and the shopping and, in her more available moments, studies English with her. But the scant 112 pages that Charyn (Movieland) allots to his memoir is a puzzling, self-imposed handicap to order and clarity in this emotionally fraught memoir. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
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