cover image Snowball, Dragonfly, Jew

Snowball, Dragonfly, Jew

Stuart Ross, ECW, $17.95 trade paper (168p) ISBN 978-1-77041-013-8

Ross's slight first novel is composed of brief, somber, funny tales, and begins in Ontario with the narrator's memory of his mother avenging the gas chamber deaths of her Polish relatives by shooting a prominent neo-Nazi in the head. The fantasy of the victim suddenly empowered—his mother killing Rolf Köber as he steps out of a Jewish-owned hardware store, his hardhat spinning "like a dreidl"—becomes a mournful dirge that runs through these nostalgic and grim coming-of-age anecdotes. Both the narrator, Ben, and his mother have been bullied, she as a girl by Christian children, he by an older boy who forces him to destroy the book he's reading. As Ben destroys Black Like Me he thinks, "Now was the time to fight back," a vengeance fantasy that comforts him. Ben's parents die of cancer and his older brother, Jake, loses his memory, then his mind; Ben turns to performance art, reliving childhood traumas in acts called "Stagger" and "Nerve Endings," and often rehearsing fantasies, such as Jimmy Stewart's bell tower pursuit of Kim Novak in Vertigo. These are sharply composed vignettes with a keen sense of timing and humor. (Apr.)