Among the Ginzburgs

Ellen Pall, Author Zoland Books $22.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-944072-61-5
There are no villains or heroes in this perceptive, poignant examination of family; whatever a character's surface traits-foppery and vanity, or nobility and self-sacrifice-Pall (Back East, 1983) digs deep to expose the sweetness and vulnerability that are at each one's core. On a rainy autumn weekend at their family's farmhouse in the Catskills, the five adult Ginzburg children and three of their mates gather for the first time in many years. The reason: their father, Meyer, who abandoned them and their mother 28 years ago, has returned home to die. At first shunning Meyer, who lies upstairs reflecting on his fragmented life with increasing detachment, the various Ginzburgs engage in the reminiscing, raillery, crying and feuding that are particular to siblings. Take away the wise and analytical commentary and this is a classic drawing-room drama set in a country house; the theatricality is further enhanced by the presence of famous actor Anatole, the husband of the second youngest Ginzburg. But Pall never descends to cheap theatrics and instead puts a clever and always gentle twist on scenes that in less able hands would be cliched and melodramatic. Dialogue, characterizations, setting-all ring true in this mature, gracefully realized work. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
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