Writing a Jewish Life: Memoirs

Lev Raphael, Author . Carroll & Graf $14.95 (166p) ISBN 978-0-7867-1649-4

I grew up in a minefield," writes Raphael movingly in the title essay in this collection of 11 short memoirs, referring to being a child of Holocaust survivors who never knew when he might "say or do the wrong thing." In just over 20 pages, Raphael gives us a frightening and unsettling portrait of how the ravages of war and genocide can be passed from one generation to the next. In clear, concise sentences devoid of sentimentality, Raphael writes of how he learned to deal with his early trauma by writing about his life as a Jew and later as a gay man. Novelist Raphael (Winter Eyes ) has a fluid and compelling style, and these essays—blending personal experiences with literary references and homespun psychological insights—are enjoyable to read. The author can write smartly about a number of topics—gay life in Israel; growing to love a pet dog—and can be extremely affecting, as when he writing about losing his mother to a slow terminal illness. Yet the emotional range of this collection is not broad or deep enough to sustain a reader's undivided interest. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 11/28/2005
Release date: 12/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
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