Bearing the Body

Ehud Havazelet, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $24 (296p) ISBN 978-0-374-29972-9

The past wrecks the male members of the Mirsky family differently in story writer Havazelet’s haunting debut novel, his first book since 1998’s Like Never Before. Growing up in early 1970s Queens, Nathan Mirsky idolizes his older brother, Daniel, a student antiwar activist at Columbia University, but after Daniel moves to the West Coast and begins a downward spiral into addiction, the brothers grow apart. Twenty years later, Nathan, a medical resident in Boston, receives a letter from Daniel mailed the same day Daniel was murdered. Their father, Sol, a widower and Holocaust survivor compiling an archive of Holocaust stories, accompanies Nathan to San Francisco to learn more about Daniel’s death. There they meet Daniel’s lover, Abby, and her six-year-old son, Ben (who isn’t Daniel’s). The story reveals less about Daniel’s death than about the accumulated grievances and regrets that comprise his, as well as his father’s, legacies. Havazelet treats painful subjects—the death of an infant, concentration camp scenes—with wrenching understatement, and his depictions of Nathan’s therapy sessions provide insight and levity. The novel ends on a surprisingly optimistic note, but what lingers are its portraits of people bearing the weight of their family history. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 04/30/2007
Release date: 08/01/2007
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 978-1-250-10618-6
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