A doleful, if occasionally elegiac, history of a heritage weaves back and forth from the East Bronx to Russia, and gives only a thin fictional application to what is obviously a racial and family record. Sam Star, a young man of 19, tells the story of the Kagans- later Cohens- in the first person, goes back three generations to his great grandfather- a fur peddler in the Ukraine, to his son- Abraham, and to the eleven sons and one daughter (Sam's mother) decended from Abraham. Of the many brothers, Jacob was a flashing figure- and as the world widened before him- from a small village to Minsk and St. Petersburg- created a lumber empire. His mother Eshka (Esther) married a doctor, Starobinetz (Star), and as the persecutions of the Jews continued- migrated to America with five of her brothers. Much of the account centers here on the long torment of his parents' death-both from cancer- and the dismal agony for the boy as well. And with the ""end to dying""- there is a postscript to his youth which takes him on to Paris...A religio-racial portrait, of greater meaning to the writer who is assessing and assimilating his genesis, than to others- and there is a heavy idiom and inflection.