Alice's Neck: Barbara Novak

Barbara Novak, Author Ticknor & Fields $17.95 (271p) ISBN 978-0-89919-539-1
This evocative, erudite and well-crafted first novel by a celebrated art historian transports the reader into the intense and fragmented world of Anne Bernsteina brilliant and beautiful graduate student at Harvard driven to madness by her obsessive search into the meaning and responsibilities of one's ancestry and heritage. Anne's carrel at Widener library overflows with books on American history, contemporary German culture, the Holocaust, kabbalah, DNA, depression, psychic phenomena and moretopics that take their turn permeating her thoughts and emotions during her tumultuous relationships with three men, a professor whose genealogy mirrors U.S. history and two fellow graduate students. It is her passion for one of the latter, Kurt Hahn, a sensitive and appealing young man with an ancestry that includes Paiute Indians and a Nazi grandfather, that results in Anne's dramatic and disastrous confrontation with her own Jewish roots. While the novel at times gets bogged down with long scholarly discussions, the author keeps her plot moving through the skillful use of flashbacks, entries in Anne's diary, letters from the three men and observations on life from Lewis Carroll's Alice. Novak's nonfiction work, Nature and Culture, was widely praised. (October)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1987
Release date: 10/01/1987
Genre: Fiction
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