Saturday, March 24, 2018


I don’t usually read short story collections, but this one has been on my bookshelf for a long time.  Suffice it to say that these stories are all very Jewish, although the themes, of course, transcend religion.  As a non-Jewish reader, however, I found many words unfamiliar, such as “gilgul,” which apparently means a sort of reincarnation.  In this particular story, a non-Jewish man suddenly realizes during a taxi ride that his soul is Jewish.  I think this is perhaps the most unusual story from a spiritual perspective, but none of the stories are exactly mundane.  The first one sets a very morbid tone, and the last one is about an American who narrowly escapes a bombing in Jerusalem.  All the intervening stories have a little more humor and usually a dash of irreverence.  My favorite is the second story in which a group of Jews, clad only in their long underwear, accidentally board a circus train during the Holocaust.  They are mistaken for acrobats and proceed to develop their act in the corridor of the train.  Ludicrous perhaps, but the mental image will stay with me, I think.  Another absurd story is that of a Jewish department store Santa who loses it when a child requests a menorah for Christmas.  For me, short stories are just not as satisfying as a full-length novel, but there is something to be said for being able to finish a story in one sitting.  In this case, each story is fresh and unique, and I enjoyed all of them, except the first one.  They all, except for the first one again, seemed a little unfinished, but I think that is perhaps the nature of the short story.  Not everything can be resolved in twenty pages.

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