You get the idea - old-time vitality versus suspended animation. And you can see where Englander is coming from. It is meant as a compliment to say that 'The Gilgul of Park Avenue' sometimes reads as if its author's insides were entertaining Mr Roth. His way with words if not per cent original discloses a fluent new talent; if there is any question, it concerns the direction of his satire. Is an empty Luger a sufficiently testing target?
It was an obvious necessity for first- and even second-generation writers to acknowledge that something had been lost in transition.
But nowadays religion, especially as practised in Jerusalem where several of these stories are set , is less than admirable. Who could be blamed for embracing soulless materialism if the alternative were mindless fanaticism? Who could blame Mrs Luger for being a little wary? The other gilgul haunting this collection is Isaac Bashevis Singer. In 'The Tumblers', Englander visits the Nazis upon the simpletons of Chelm made world-famous by the aforementioned Singer.
The story of the accidental escape of some of its residents disguised as acrobats is a wonderful addition to the canon. More problematic is the fate of an unfortunate who doesn't quite make it. Comedy for the highest and lowest of brows. Meet God's only begotten daughter. You only live twice? A humorous and quirky adventure in the Jewish Resurrection from an award-winning author.
For the Relief of Unbearable Urges has ratings and reviews. Stef said: A mixed bag. The first two stories are full of black absurd humor. The o. For the Relief of Unbearable Urges is a short story collection by Nathan Englander, first published by Knopf in It has received many positive reviews.
A Workman Classic Schoolbook. A fun and fascinating addition to your homeschool program, classroom reading, or personal study. Stories of Anton Chekhov. A French economist sparks an affair? Bane of the Innocent. Review "Englander's voice is distinctly his own--daring, funny and exuberant.
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There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. Save the sixth story in this collection of nine--"Reb Kringle"--until the last. Because it may be the funniest Jewish-based story I have ever read. Something tell me that Nathan Englander read David Sedaris's "Santaland Diaries" prior to writing this story, one that is even funnier than the Sedaris tale of someone being an elf at Macy's during the Christmas season.
Except in this case--okay, I'll spill some of the beans--it is an old Jewish rabbi who, for four weeks, with his actual big belly and long, flowing white beard plays the role of Santa Claus at the large department store in NYC, quite obviously Macy's.
It is so so so funny. I don't know how funny these stories would be to someone who knows nothing about Yiddish-speaking Jews. But this goy loves all things about Yiddish-speaking Jews. And these stories have it all, including a story about Russian Jews on their way to concentration camps in Germany. Not funny, you say? I have no idea why anyone would rate this as low as a two or one star unless, of course, they lack a sense of humor, black humor.
One person found this helpful 2 people found this helpful. Much has been written about what works in this collection of short stories, so I will dwell on what does not. The final story in the collection, In This Way We Are Wise, seems like some unnecessary coda and hardly fits into the themes and tone of the rest of the collection.
After so much Singer without the sexual psychosis, and so much Malmudian tenseness, it was as if Englander wanted to throw in a bit of old fashioned realism to show us he can do it. Unfortunately, the piece falls flat; it is mired in the obvious and trite, and is a poor ending to a powerful collection. But even some of the other pieces, which are far more successfully executed, appear to have a truncated sense of something missing, especially in their conclusion. Reunion starts with great promise, with a gradual unfolding of character and drama, only to end in speech making in front of a Brooklyn brownstone.
Reb Krinkle, a story with a hilarious premise and laugh out loud dialogue, ends rather abruptly and unsatisfactorily with a thin paragraph which lacks wit or pathos. It is as if Englander, being prepped for sainthood and literary fame, is rushing through to the ending, to run as fast as he can, to get his piece between the slim covers of American Short Fiction, the Atlantic, The New Yorker, and Story. And to do that, you have to end a story, right, even if you don't want to?
Even if it feels wrong. Englander is a superb writer; he is so effective and skillful in capturing the absurdities and the tragedies in the "human condition", although his stories are not light in mood, i found myself chuckling at some of the situations he creates, and almost weeping at others.
Although he is obviously profoundly disturbed by human nature as he sees it, at the same time, his writings often reveal deep compassion for victims of suffering inflicted on them by the cruelties of others. I read this book after reading the author's latest book of short stories and found these to be as good as his most recent collection. His subsequent novel, The Minister of Special Cases, showed that he was capable of building on the talents developed here. Englander is one of my favorite young novelists writing today. Nov 21, Judy rated it really liked it Shelves: A great collection of short stories revolving around aspects of Jewish life.
Each main character and each story offers a different perspective. The reader gets the opportunity to see through the eyes of a rabbi, young people, elderly people, the suffering and the crazy. I loved the variety this book offered, the different settings, different walks of life and most of all the humor. This is my first book by Nathan Englander and will not be my last! Sep 12, adam rated it really liked it. OK I'll say it: But let me qualify that by mentioning that you might not get it if you're not sigh Jewish. I think it was Will Smith who said, "Take it from me, gentiles just don't understand.
I hope his debut novel which just came out is as good as this. There is no question that this author can write. Maybe I was a bit handicapped because I know and understand even less about the orthodox Jews. The first two stories were a bit dark but humorous at the same time, as if the author knows you can only have so much darkness before light.
The rest of the books and the stories were a little easier, I particularly liked the story, "The Wig". May 28, James rated it really liked it Shelves: Another splendid collection of Short stories, reading these is like taking a heavenly bath in great writing. Jul 17, Laura rated it it was ok. Apr 18, Florence rated it really liked it. The story from this collection that stands out is The Tumblers. How a writer can zip back and forth from imminent cataclysm to absurd farce is nothing short of amazing.
Who knew that the chasm between Jews who brush off religious rituals and those who live by them could be so entertaining? Nathan Englander knows the Jewish people intimately; their ancient history, their tragedy, and their human foibles. Jun 30, Lgordo rated it it was amazing. This book was beautiful. Feb 02, Sheri rated it liked it. Somehow I did not realize this was a collection of short stories and I wasn't really in the mood. They are not bad stories, but are all focused on Orthodox Jews something about which I don't know a whole lot.
It holds together well enough as a collection and some are better than others; I have each story noted below. The focus is on the last man added to the list the 27th as an almost after thought.
He se Somehow I did not realize this was a collection of short stories and I wasn't really in the mood. He seems to be less productive, but certainly worshipful of the other 26 more famous men. I wasn't really taken with this one; just as Pinchas gets acclaim he is shot. On the other hand, it was illustrative of the brutality of war and persecution of the Jews. The Tumblers This one was a bit more hopeful.
The most strict orthodox Jews mistakenly board a circus train instead of a train on its way to a camp. It left me wondering how the very efficient German guards would have allowed this to happen. The irony here is that of course they don't pull off a tumbling act the reader does not expect that , but they are greeted as a clown troupe performing the "Jewish ballet".
It is unclear from the ending if they will continue performing or be sent to the camps, but it is a bit hopeful. Reunion This is set in modern times with a non-confirming man who is repeatedly put into an asylum by his wife. While there, he meets a man who turns out to be his rabbi's brother. Clearly the shock value of a reunion will not appeal and once again Marty learns that conformity is NOT about impulse.
I was mildly entertained with this one, but also struck by the inability of the rabbi to forgive. The Wig Again set in modern times, the wigmaker becomes obsessed with a gardener's hair. I was unsure about the ending. I guess the point is that the hair was worth more than that, but can't the guy grow more? I was not convinced that he would continue to hound her; it would have been more believable if he started bringing around his friends to try to sell her more hair since she paid such top dollar. The Gilgul of Park Avenue This was similar to Reunion in that the conflict is between the husband and wife and shrinks are consulted.
Both stories deal with expectations; as spouses we have certain parameters in which we are supposed to behave. When a spouse stops following orthodox behavior in Reunion or starts in Gilgul , the other spouse has the right to be upset. Gilgul is a bit more hopeful and certainly allows for individuals to be such within certain bounds.
For the Relief of Unbearable Urges - Nevisande: Trivia About For the Relief of I hope you don't have to be Jewish to feel the Krazy Glue. The next story is named "Reb Kringle"--obvious, or it will be before you can get very far over the mountain and through the woods. See and discover other items: Yocheved, a little girl, lingers too long and is shot in the neck by a sniper.
There were also a few funny moments along the way. Reb Kringle I think this way my favorite story. An orthodox Jew working as Santa and getting fired. Interesting to watch the intersection of need must earn money in a job with values a kid shouldn't be denied Hanukkah. The Last One Way Again we have the power of the community upon the individual. Poor Gitta has been trying to get divorced for 18 years, but cannot move on. Unfortunately I just didn't get it.
Threatening murder and beating up her ex-husband and pretending to be pregnant. It felt like a farce, but I was afraid that Englander meant it with a straight face. This was probably my least favorite of the stories. For the Relief of Unbearable Urges This was also greatly ironically funny.
The needy husband is advised to visit a prostitute in order to calm himself enough to be aloof, which will then entice his wife. But, of course the husband is not only guilty and feels badly then when his wife makes advances, he also has contracted a disease. Definitely my second favorite in the book. In this way We are Wise The short sections with poetic descriptions were pretty, but I didn't feel like this one belonged with the others.
An American living in Isreal and coming to grips with the war zone. There was not a humorous element and it did not focus on orthodoxy. In general, I thought this was one of the weaker stories in the collection. Nathan Englander publishes only a couple of story collections per decade. The fact that he is an international darling of Jewish literature suggests that his work makes up in quality what it lacks in quantity. And there is indeed a richness and complexity to these stories that bears out the time and labor Englander apparently put into them.
Even the order of the pieces throughout the collection suggests careful deliberation, with significant themes and motifs carrying through from one story to t Nathan Englander publishes only a couple of story collections per decade. Even the order of the pieces throughout the collection suggests careful deliberation, with significant themes and motifs carrying through from one story to the next. It is the most fragmented story.
It is also digressive, distracted, difficult to follow—a persuasive mimic of the mind recovering from tragedy. Or steeling itself for the beginning of recovery. She turns to kabbala and numerology, makes promises, eventually turns to hired thugs. The story renders an elegant, sympathetic account of her struggle.