The Jump Artist

Austin Ratner, Author . Bellevue Literary $14.95 (252p) ISBN 978-1-934137-15-4

In his debut, Ratner fictionalizes the story of Philippe Halsman, a renowned photographer who, as a young man in interwar Austria, had his life forever changed by an anti-Semitic kangaroo court. In the novel, “Philipp Halsman” and his father, Max, were hiking when, as Philipp looked away, Max fell off the lip of a cliff and died. The locals testified that Philipp murdered his father, whipping up an anti-Semitic frenzy. After time in prison and his banishment from Austria, Philipp attempts to build his life abroad with the burden of having been believed a murderer; only his mother and a small faction of intellectuals are convinced of his innocence. Ratner’s recreation of Philipp’s tortured psyche can be wearying, and Philipp’s awkwardness—from his jailhouse fixations to the guilt and self-loathing that play so heavily in his life—serve to make him more of an enigma for the reader than probably intended. But, in a broader context, the story has tremendous resonance, given what had yet to come. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/06/2009
Release date: 05/01/2009
Ebook - 300 pages - 978-1-934137-27-7
Ebook - 256 pages - 978-0-241-96140-7
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