The Samaritan Treasure

Marianne Luban, Author Coffee House Press $9.95 (226p) ISBN 978-0-918273-79-6
In her debut collection, Luban seems most comfortable with faraway times and imagined worlds. The best of these five tales is the title story, which traverses the ages from the reign of Ahab and Jezebel to the waning days of the British Empire and includes extraterrestrial visitations, reincarnation and the vision of a restored Samaritan kingdom. Also notable is ``The Jew of Bath,'' in which Benjamin D'Aragon, a Sephardic Jew, sweeps Jane Austen off her feet. The other stories, however, miss the mark widely. ``Tomorrow You'll Forget,'' a Holocaust survivor's account of trading sexual favors for survival, is unbelievable in its portrayal of Auschwitz. Equally unconvincing is ``Professor Mondshane,'' about a romance between a middle-aged survivor and the rebellious teenage daughter of Polish anti-Semites. ``The Last of Rafaela'' appears to be a rewrite of Bernard Malamud's classic ``The Lady of the Lake.'' In Luban's version, an American Jew traveling in Europe falls in love with a beautiful Italian and loses her when he denies his Jewishness. Despite adding some Hollywood glitter and a happy ending, the author has not improved on the original. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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