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ALMOST THE TRUTH

STORIES AND LIES

Heartfelt and droll tales that blend autobiography and fiction.

Awards & Accolades

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A writer’s debut short story collection offers whimsical, mostly true tales of his life as an Egyptian Jew in Canada.

Although 60-year-old Ronnie rarely goes to synagogue, his Egyptian Jewish family is an integral part of his life and stories. His multilingual household entails a blend of French, Arabic, English, and Hebrew. And while he’s quite fond of the Egyptian cuisine he grew up with, he fears having his Christian friend Stevie Sheen over for dinner lest he be in for a cultural shock. The tales here are typically lighthearted, such as “Our Father, Our King,” in which someone steals Ronnie’s car on Yom Kippur. Other stories showcase Ronnie engaged in his favorite pastimes, namely golf and poker. But this book, consisting of 34 tales, isn’t exclusively autobiographical. A man named Harold Goldfarb headlines a series of hysterical stories, which see him meticulously plotting his suicide—this turns out to be less morbid than it sounds—and, later, struggling to decipher the meaning of a coconut emoji in a cryptic text. Similarly, certain individuals, even outside of Ronnie’s family, have multiple appearances, especially Stevie and Ronnie’s regular golfing and poker comrade Lewberg. As the author occasionally references events or players in earlier stories, readers may best enjoy the collection chronologically (for example, Ronnie and Lewberg attend the memorial of a character who dies in a preceding tale). Zevy writes in an easygoing style that’s both polished and seemingly improvised. When discussing a woman who plays a significant role in one of his tales, he writes: “I kinda feel bad I don’t know her name. I am going to ask Steve before I finish this story.” Complementing the author’s humor is earnestness, particularly when writing about his charming parents, as in “My Mother” and “Photographs.” Zevy adds some of his personal photos as well.

Heartfelt and droll tales that blend autobiography and fiction.

Pub Date: May 17, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2020

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THE GOD OF THE WOODS

"Don't go into the woods" takes on unsettling new meaning in Moore's blend of domestic drama and crime novel.

Many years after her older brother, Bear, went missing, Barbara Van Laar vanishes from the same sleepaway camp he did, leading to dark, bitter truths about her wealthy family.

One morning in 1975 at Camp Emerson—an Adirondacks summer camp owned by her family—it's discovered that 13-year-old Barbara isn't in her bed. A problem case whose unhappily married parents disdain her goth appearance and "stormy" temperament, Barbara is secretly known by one bunkmate to have slipped out every night after bedtime. But no one has a clue where's she permanently disappeared to, firing speculation that she was taken by a local serial killer known as Slitter. As Jacob Sluiter, he was convicted of 11 murders in the 1960s and recently broke out of prison. He's the one, people say, who should have been prosecuted for Bear's abduction, not a gardener who was framed. Leave it to the young and unproven assistant investigator, Judy Luptack, to press forward in uncovering the truth, unswayed by her bullying father and male colleagues who question whether women are "cut out for this work." An unsavory group portrait of the Van Laars emerges in which the children's father cruelly abuses their submissive mother, who is so traumatized by the loss of Bear—and the possible role she played in it—that she has no love left for her daughter. Picking up on the themes of families in search of themselves she explored in Long Bright River (2020), Moore draws sympathy to characters who have been subjected to spousal, parental, psychological, and physical abuse. As rich in background detail and secondary mysteries as it is, this ever-expansive, intricate, emotionally engaging novel never seems overplotted. Every piece falls skillfully into place and every character, major and minor, leaves an imprint.

"Don't go into the woods" takes on unsettling new meaning in Moore's blend of domestic drama and crime novel.

Pub Date: July 2, 2024

ISBN: 9780593418918

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2024

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SANDWICH

A moving, hilarious reminder that parenthood, just like life, means constant change.

During an annual beach vacation, a mother confronts her past and learns to move forward.

Her family’s annual trip to Cape Cod is always the highlight of Rocky’s year—even more so now that her children are grown and she cherishes what little time she gets with them. Rocky is deep in the throes of menopause, picking fights with her loving husband and occasionally throwing off her clothes during a hot flash, much to the chagrin of her family. She’s also dealing with her parents, who are crammed into the same small summer house (with one toilet that only occasionally spews sewage everywhere) and who are aging at an alarmingly rapid rate. Rocky’s life is full of change, from her body to her identity—she frequently flashes back to the vacations of years past, when her children were tiny. Although she’s grateful for the family she has, she mourns what she’s lost. Newman (author of the equally wonderful We All Want Impossible Things, 2022) imbues Rocky’s internal struggles with importance and gravity, all while showcasing her very funny observations about life and parenting. She examines motherhood with a raw honesty that few others manage—she remembers the hard parts, the depths of despair, panic, and anxiety that can happen with young children, and she also recounts the joy in a way that never feels saccharine. She has a gift for exploring the real, messy contradictions in human emotions. As Rocky puts it, “This may be the only reason we were put on this earth. To say to each other, I know how you feel.”

A moving, hilarious reminder that parenthood, just like life, means constant change.

Pub Date: June 18, 2024

ISBN: 9780063345164

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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