Through and Through: Toledo Stories

Joseph Geha, Author Graywolf Press $7.95 (180p) ISBN 978-1-55597-135-9
His characterizations and storytelling skills are often underdeveloped, but in his first book Geha nevertheless opens an intriguing window onto the Lebanese- and Syrian-Christian emigre communities of Toledo and Detroit, from the 1920s to the present. Men import brides sight unseen from the old country; porcelain painted to look like miniature eyeballs serve as charms against the evil eye; and picnics are occasions for the playing of lutes and the dizzying stampede of feet in a debkee dance. Cultural displacement is Geha's overriding theme: Uhdrah's fiance is appalled when she, the newest greenhorn fresh from shepherding her father's goats, strokes the corpse of a mentally ill man, thinking to revive him; meeting a blond American in the laundromat, Barbara is ashamed of her dark hairiness and large breasts, her legacy from an intrusive old-fashioned mother; Tonia's marriage to blond American Wayne makes her tense; and tomboy Nadia thinks American women shopping in her neighborhood are ``silly,'' yet she wishes ``she were one of them, returning with them into that huge strangeness, America, luring her despite the threat it seemed to hold.''88 Geha reinforces stereotypes through women who cling to children, husbands, religion and superstitions, and Jews who are savvy in business and physically sickly. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/1990
Release date: 09/01/1990
Open Ebook - 177 pages - 978-0-8156-5096-6
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