Books by Eric Blau

Released: Sept. 21, 1993

Zachary Barthelmes is a Hollywood scriptwriter and director importuned by a Holocaust-surviving movie mogul, Moe Cohen, king of the horror flicks, to write a screenplay about the life of Theodor Herzl, the Zionist founding father. In the doing, Barthelmes—with ad-exec girlfriend Kalia Wiggins always in supportive tow— discovers Israel and his own buried half-Jewishness (he'd been raised in his mother's Gentile faith). The Herzl script becomes a life's-work, a white elephant of sorts; but filtered through it, Barthelmes's views of the political jockeying around the Yom Kippur War and his own ambivalence about Jewishness become quite acute. Stage writer, director, and producer Blau (best known as the creator of the musical Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris) sticks his nose so far into Barthelmes's project—filling page after page with completed scenes for the Herzl script—that a reader feels the book itself is a sort of mythical project, to which are sacrificed such narrative felicities as plot complication and rounded characters. There is occasional fine portraiture here- -Moe Cohen the haunted producer; old shul Jews in the Bronx at the story's wind-up—but the air of quixotic self-discovery pretty much rarefies the realism and leaves it an urbane but one-note flog. (First printing of 25,000) Read full book review >