STERN by Bruce Jay Friedman


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The unappealing ""hero"" of this novel, a young Jewish businessman known to us only as ""Stern"", has an ambulatory nervous breakdown when he is afraid to challenge the coarse bigot who has insulted his wife. Stern and his wife and their young son have just moved out to the suburbs. Taking the child to play, the wife is knocked down by the father of the putative playmate, and told that his child isn't going to play with any ""kike"" kid. When Stern's wife tells him of the incident that evening, he masochistically insists on her going over the details again and again, but he knows he is afraid to fight the man. To mitigate his guilt, Stern Indulges in fantasies of the bigot's physical strength; his guilt feelings exacerbate his usual parasoia, he develops an ulcer from the anxiety, and has to go to a nursing home. At the nursing home he meets a variety of engaging characters, returns home feeling able to challenge the bigot to an inconclusive fight, and recovers his mental equilibrium, such as it is. The minor characters demonstrate that Mr. Friedman has imagination, but Stern is no utterly ordinary that the book sags with his weight.

Pub Date: Sept. 24th, 1962
ISBN: 0802137504
Publisher: Simon & Schuster