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Slava Gelman, the protagonist of Boris Fishman's debut novel A Replacement Life, fabricates Holocaust narratives for elderly Russian immigrants' reparations claims applications. In my NYJB review I write, "Slava knows that to make his stories convincing he has to get the details right, and despite the leaps of faith Fishman demands he provides more than enough correct details and well crafted figurative turns of phrase to convince most readers to go along with him—and those who do will be amply rewarded by this multidimensional and handsomely written debut novel." For additional remarks about A Replacement Life see my examiner article.

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“It is probably not fair to compare C. K. Williams’ prose in All at Once with his award winning verse poetry books, but it does offer poetry averse readers an opportunity to engage with a perceptive and empathic wordsmith whose work they otherwise would not encounter.” —From my NYJB book review.  Also see my examiner article.

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 "David Grand’s third novel, Mount Terminus, is written in luscious, erudite prose so dense his readers have no choice but to read it slowly." 

-- from my review of Mount Terminus by David Grand on New York Journal of Books. Also see my examiner article.

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Read more... )From my NYJB review: “. . . readers prone to depression might consider acquiring a prescription for antidepressant medication before attempting to read The Remains of Love.” Also see my examiner article: "Israeli books: Zeruya Shalev's 5th novel views family through a Freudian lens"

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Who Will Die Last book cover


"David Ehrlich’s short stories, some of which describe the lives of both openly identified and closeted Israeli gay men, are sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and sometimes both."



Read my review on New York Journal of Books and my additional remarks on examiner.


David Ehrlich
Who Will Die Last author David Ehrlich
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Claudia Silver to the Rescue book cover

In my New York Journal of Books review I describe the novel as "a fun and funny read about the mistakes twentysomethings make when they first live independently as adults." In addition to my NYJB review also read my Examiner article about this novel.


Claudia Silver to the Rescue author Kathy Ebel
Claudia Silver to the Rescue author Kathy Ebel
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gender bias at The Times Literary Supplement

The Vida count: Gender bias in book reviewing - New York NY | Examiner.com


Women authors and reviewers continue to face gender bias.

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The Retrospective book cover

My review of A.B. Yehoshua's new novel The Retrospective. Also see my examiner.com article:

A.B. Yehoshua's new novel The Retrospectiveis a book I enjoyed reading while I was reading it but one that left me somewhat disappointed afterward. In my New York Journal of books review I explore the novel's multiple allegories and describe it as "a quick and easy read" despite its layers of meaning. My use of the phrase "quick and easy" may have something to do with the fact that I read The Retrospectiveshortly after reading William Gass' comparatively difficult novel Middle C. I actually prefer dense prose and more challenging use of language, but Mr. Yehoshua's naturalistic dialogue as well as his use of symbolism and allegory kept me engaged.

The Retrospective is an autobiographical novel in which cinema stands in for fiction and a film director represents the novelist. Indeed the director attends a retrospective of his early films and receives a prize in Santiago de Compostela, the same Spanish city where his author was awarded a literature prize. The novel's Hebrew title can be translated as Spanish Charity and its central image is Roman Charity, a story of a daughter who breast feeds her starving father depicted in numerous Renaissance paintings. Pardon the pun, but Mr. Yehoshua milks the image for all the symbolic and allegorical meaning it can yield. See my New York Journal of Books review for a fuller discussion of those allegories.


“Caritas Romana,” by Matthias Meyvogel
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The Jewish Book Council's 2012 book of the year is not one book but three: the three volume box set City of Promises: A History of the Jews of New York published last September by New York University Press.

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"To become memorable or brilliant, language needs to be fertilized by egotism." 

Adam Kirsch's long but worth reading collection of meditations/prose epigrams on the position of writers WRT past writers, future readers, and the present tense; on the respective roles of literature and science; and the role of culture in a technologically evolving civilization (among other insights). 

via poetryfoundation.org

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"Kinship is a central theme in Israeli writer Dror Burstein's novel Kin, which is published today in Dalya Bilu's English translation by Dalkey Archive Press. The book portrays the inner life of Yoel, a senior citizen, widower, and adoptive father who decides to find his adult son Emile's biological parents and reunite him with them."

Kinship is a central element in Judaism along with the revelation at Sinai, the Torah, and observance of laws derived from the Torah. Performing traditional customs and rituals connects us to earlier generations of Jews. Our identity is in part defined by our genealogy going all the way back to the patriarchs and matriarchs. Indeed so important is this genealogy that conversion to Judaism ritually severs the convert's previous genealogy, and he or she is ritually referred to as a son or daughter of Abraham and Sarah.

Also see my New York Journal of Books review of "Kin": http://goo.gl/gAtWg

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I dreamed I called you on the telephone 
to say: Be kinder to yourself 
but you were sick and would not answer

The waste of my love goes on this way
trying to save you from yourself

I have always wondered about the left-over
energy, the way water goes rushing down a hill
long after the rains have stopped

or the fire you want to go to bed from
but cannot leave, burning-down but not burnt-down
the red coals more extreme, more curious
in their flashing and dying
than you wish they were
sitting long after midnight



An apposite poem at the time of her passing via bryantmcgill.com

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7daysinriobookcover

"This ironic and absurdist highbrow little sex novel is a hoot. . . . Mr. Levy's humor is dryer than Monty Python's but no less funny, and he combines high and low culture in a particularly appealing way."

via nyjournalofbooks.com
 
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Rus Bowden via poetryandpoetsinrags.blogspot.com

"This April, Ayat al-Ghermezi (or Ayat al-Gormezi) was reported to have been raped and killed (http://poetryandpoetsinrags.blogspot.com/2011/04/poetic-obituaries-ayat-al-ghermezi-20.html) while in the custody of Bahraini forces. Bahrain is blaming the misinformation on Iran, but still and all, we find out that she is to come before a Bahrain military tribunal for reading poetry. This is our first story, and the first of a pair of headliners for the week.
"Our second story is about blogger and poet Amina Abdallah, who has both Syrian and American citizenship. Her blog is called A Gay Girl in Damascus (http://damascusgaygirl.blogspot.com/). She has been abducted by armed men, and the reports or fears are that this is an official Syrian arrest.

"Those two articles are followed by one of a Turkish mayor getting six months in prison for being part of the council that named a park after a poet. That's followed by a story on Chile's communist party looking into fresh allegations that Pablo Neruda was executed by poison for his politics. And it just doesn't seem to stop.

"The new martyrs are the poets. Apparently in some parts of the world, all over the world, there are religious people who think they can earn their halos by killing, harassing, maiming, or otherwise silencing poets. Somehow whatever sin they concoct for poets is much worse than any sin they themselves have committed or are wont to commit. It must make them feel close to God or Allah to kill or harm such a poet, because no remorse whatsoever is shown after their despicable acts. But it is only he who is without sin, who can cast the first stone. That's common sense. Do it otherwise, and it makes no difference who you are or what position you hold, whatever sin you thought was in the poet, yours is much worse.

"This same principal follows when poets are abducted, detained, imprisoned, tortured, or killed for political reasons, whether it be by a political group which feels it ought to be in power, or one that is. If an ideology cannot withstand a poem, such ideology amounts to nothing. If a military power or a government structure is threatened by a poem, there is no power beyond arms, and there is no government beyond threats. A government or political movement that is so threatened by a poem, or even a whole poet, such that the poet is abducted or killed for the sake of a nation, or even threatened with military might, is a tyrannical government, or a movement based on the selfish egos giving it power.

"Therefore, one great measure of a good government and a healthy society is the amount of latitude poets are given, and, on the other hand, how few people are in prisons because of poems they wrote. This follows for religions. The better the religion, the less poets are being condemned, not disagreed with, but condemned."

 

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Read the article on guardian.co.uk

Address to the poet's secretary and lover Betty Mackereth surfaces among old university papers.

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The following article is excerpted from the latest issue of n+1 magazine. This article is available online only in Slate.

‎"No one with 'literary' aspirations will expect to earn a living by publishing books; the glory days when publishers still waffled between patronage and commerce will be much lamented. The lit-lovers who used to become editors and agents will direct MFA programs instead; the book industry will become as rational—that is, as single-mindedly devoted to profit—as every other capitalist industry."

Will? Is it not to a considerable extent already so?

The author marks the boundaries of literary Brooklyn as DUMBO and Prospect Heights, but it is more accurate to draw its boundaries as a triangle that goes from Greenpoint in the northwest to Victorian Flatbush in the east to Red Hook in the southwest.

As a native New Yorker, Brooklynite, alumnus of a CCNY graduate creative writing program, poet/translator and fiction reviewer I am on the periphery of both literary cultures, and much of the article resonates with the ring of truth. However, in an era of government budget cuts I don't see MFA programs continuing to proliferate; indeed, they may prove vulnerable to the budget ax.

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This weekend enthusiasts and creators are gathering at the Brooklyn Lyceum, 227 Fourth Avenue between Union and President Streets in Park Slope, for King Con, the borough's first large comics convention, featuring fifty-plus exhibitors and top talent appearing in readings and panel discussions.

Read the entire examiner.com article and view a slideshow of illustrations and book covers by KingCon writers and illustrators.

 

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