Sonia Pilcer, Author . Persea $22.95 (180p) ISBN 978-0-89255-261-0

It's not easy being "2G"—Second Generation, the child of Holocaust survivors—as Zosha, Pilcer's alter ego, tells us in this avowedly autobiographical collection. "While the survivors seem to have the ability to go on with their lives," she writes, "it is their children who spend much of their time, not to mention money, talking to Ph.D.s and MSWs." The 15 stories collected here seek to explore this paradox, though their approach feels a bit simplistic. Zosha, whose parents lived through Auschwitz and labor camps, escaping when she was one year old, chafes under the burden of remembering the Holocaust, even as she feels that it "was all mine... my private cache of suffering and obsession." Pilcer (Teen Angel; Little Darlings) has settled on an important topic, but she works it with a limited palette—one involving mostly bitterness, irony and rather cartoonish depictions of supporting characters. In "Remembering 6,000,000" she scorns the New York Jews who open their synagogues for Holocaust Remembrance Day, and in "The Big H" she despises the Christian academics hosting an interfaith Holocaust conference. Her lovers—Ludwig, who has a neo-Nazi past, and Uly, a Jewish professor who wears jackboots and salutes "Kraut beer"—seem chosen mostly for their ironic value. "Paskudnyak" finds Zosha enraging her parents in the '60s by joining a Latina gang; her wild ways prompt her father to shout, "I should have died in the camps." This collection seems more like a cry for her parents' attention and understanding than a thoughtful examination of their difficult legacy. Just as Holocaust piety can turn into schtick, so can Holocaust irreverence: too often, that's what happens here. (July 19)

Reviewed on: 07/02/2001
Release date: 07/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 176 pages - 978-0-385-33638-3
Open Ebook - 180 pages - 978-0-89255-480-5
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