cover image Old Left

Old Left

Daniel Menaker. Alfred A. Knopf, $15.95 (132pp) ISBN 978-0-394-54678-0

The central figure in these short stories, five of which appeared in the New Yorker, is Uncle Sol, an aging but still feisty New York radical. The narrator, David Leonard, teaches journalism at Columbia, but must spend much of his time tending to his uncle, both in the city and at the Berkshires farmhouse Sol has bequeathed to David. Each tale is simple and beautifully crafted, adding layer upon layer to the story of Sol and David's loving, but stormy, relationship. As the stories progress, David also meets his wife-to-be, Elizabeth (in the marsupial room at the Museum of Natural History), and they have a child, Charlie: the new generation comes in as the old fails. Menaker (Family and Friends writes with humor and an obvious love for his charactersthe book reads more like a memoir than fictionand the stories are, without exception, moving and large-spirited. (April 28)