Rumor of an Elephant

Alain Gerber, Author Mercury House $17.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-916515-19-5
Young Vimlo Naftali lives with his family in an unspecified ethnic section of an unnamed city in an unnamed Eastern European country. Put in charge of a mysteriously symbolic hawthorn tree planted in their meager back yard, Vimlo lies when the tree dies and says an elephant came and trampled it. To his consternation, his father, his schoolmates and neighbors all claim to see the beast, whose appearance in their midst is deemed a miracle, making little Vim a sudden wonder. Warily Vim observes the community's odd and arbitrary responses to the status an elephant's presence brings, at the same time watching the equally eccentric, everyday development of his brutish brother Yagel, his father's descent into ever-deeper dejection, his own infatuation with a friend's mother. Events build on events and the elephant becomes a political issue, its reality a question that divides first the community, then the city, the country and, finally, all of Europe. Nathanael Proboscidiferous, it is calledthe pachyderm behind the Second World War. Gerber, a prize-winning French author with a strong interest in jazz, improvises with a free-floating, manic kind of humor that has been compared to Woody Allen's and Mel Brooks's; Kafka and Swift are in his background too. This is an outrageous and funny book, its humor sharp as a spike. (June)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
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