A melancholy account of a young man’s attempt to discover the meaning of his father’s death—and the path of his own future.
Schrank (Miracle Man, 1999) begins his tale on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the erstwhile Jewish ghetto that has gone through several incarnations since most of the kosher delis closed down. It is now the home turf of one Michael Zabusky, a graduate student at City University working on a dissertation about the golem (the mythical man-like monster created by Rabbi Loeb in 16th-century Prague to be the “avenger of the Jews”). Mike has the good fortune early on to meet the beautiful Katherine Staresina (a domestic-violence lawyer who obligingly introduces herself at a party and takes Mike into the bathroom for some quick but heated sex), who is very appealing in a shiksa sort of way. This is a family weakness, apparently, for Mike’s father Jeff also hooked up with a gentile after his divorce—and neither he nor Mike’s mother can understand why he is wasting his time with this Jewish Studies shtick. Mike is not really sure himself, but soon his career confusion is eclipsed by domestic shock when his father dies, apparently by his own hand. Jeff Zabusky was a stockbroker who had overextended himself and got caught when the markets took a dive. He also was in love with Sarah Caldwell, who’d begun to keep her distance from him. Which was the cause of his final despair? While trying to figure this out, Mike also fights to keep his father’s house in upstate New York from the bank. And Katherine has abruptly said that she can no longer see him. With a sharp sense of his own solitude pressing on him, Mike could be forgiven for his fantasies of creating a golem of his own. But he’s no Rabbi Loeb.
Intelligently done: a nice kaleidoscope of emotion, history, and regret.