The Rabbi in the Attic and Other Stories

Eileen Pollack, Author Delphinium Books $20 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-74260-7
Pollack's first collection displays a sure sense of tone, a sensitivity to character and a nice ear for colloquial American English. Her stories focus, for the most part, on young girls growing into womanhood, sometimes pushed through that process prematurely. The tales are most effective when they eschew the more melodramatic possibilities of material that includes madness and a variety of fatal and crippling accidents (inevitable when one of the recurring characters works for an insurance claims adjustor). Her characters struggle to understand a world they are unable to control, a world in which air conditioners fall haphazardly from windows and crush total strangers, and inept young rabbis think they hear the voice of God. Pollack's best work conveys bittersweet truths through understatement and subtle allusions. When she skirts the edge of violence (``The Vanity of Small Differences''), the result seems strained. Much more satisfying are the stories about growing up in a small upstate New York town, in which adolescent terrors are coolly recollected and reflected upon from the distance of adulthood. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991
Release date: 10/01/1991
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