The Truth about Marvin Kalish: A Mystery

Martin Samuel Cohen, Author Ben-Simon Publications $13.95 (280p) ISBN 978-0-914539-04-9
A young stand-up comic plagued by mysterious attempts on his life and a middle-aged Jewish housewife desperate to find the child she gave up for adoption are the heroes of this thinly plotted first novel. Although the action occurs in Queens, N.Y., in the 1980s, the story is rooted some 30 years earlier as refugees of Hitler's Germany struggle with their harrowing past and work to create their own version of a suburban American dream. The author displays a sympathetic insight into his characters' lives, but too much of his narrative is marred by painfully bad writing: ``The shops along Austin Street, snug behind their faux Tudor facades and thick plate glass windows, opened at the genteel hour of ten o'clock each morning once the neighborhood men were off at their profitable jobs and their refined wives had concluded their matinal toilettes at least to the extent necessary to do the morning's shopping.'' At the heart of the novel is a revelation meant to imbue the story with significance by bringing to it an element of ancient Jewish mysticism (the author is a rabbi with a doctorate in the history of ancient Judaism), but even with the explanation provided in a brief epilogue, the reader is more likely to feel nonplussed than enlightened. (Oct . )
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
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