With shrewdness, wit, and lyricism, Lempel gives voice to the women, the aging, the ill, and others who, from the margins of...


A collection of stories by an accomplished Yiddish writer now appears in English for the first time.

These stories are a remarkable achievement. This volume combines the two books of stories Lempel (1907-1999) published during her lifetime; much of her work appeared in Yiddish newspapers and remains uncollected. Lempel described female desire, abortion, and incest, among other things, at a time when very few other writers were willing to take on such subjects. She did so with modernist acuity, making use of stream-of-consciousness narrative techniques, with a poet’s eye for sharp, unsettling images. In “The Death of My Aunt,” the narrator, after learning of her aunt’s death, hangs up the telephone and looks out the window. It’s nighttime, and she sees “that the bare branches of my tree were filled with keening women wrapped in black shawls.” Her grief becomes literal, external. In “Images on a Blank Canvas,” which describes another death, she writes: “Inside my head, black crows caw loudly around the dead body,” an image that, as in many of her stories, blurs the line between the real and the unreal. That same narrator distinguishes herself from those people who “exchange information they have observed with their own eyes. I,” she tells us, “am trying to see the invisible. I don’t trust the eye that relies on facts.” This is as precise a statement of poetics as any other and speaks well to Lempel’s individual style. Unfortunately, Lempel also has a propensity for the sentimental, and many of the stories that begin with wry honesty are resolved with what feels like forced closure. She’s prone to overwriting, to grandiloquent passages more baroque than sonorous. Still, the pleasures of Lempel’s insight outweigh these stylistic proclivities.

With shrewdness, wit, and lyricism, Lempel gives voice to the women, the aging, the ill, and others who, from the margins of modern society, have had trouble making themselves heard.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2016

ISBN: 078-1-942134-25-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Mandel Vilar Press/Dryad Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.


Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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