Jewish humor lives in this frequently hilarious and thoughtful collection by the author of such classics as Stern (1962) and...



Friedman, now in his mid-80s, adds to his wide-ranging body of work with a sprawling comic novella about a faded filmmaker and stories about being old, lonely, and morally challenged.

The novella relates the misadventures of William Kleiner, a once-respected director who goes to Israel for the first time in 1990 to scout locations for a Jewish Star Wars. For all the wonders around him, he's in a sour mood, and getting only cricket scores from Sri Lanka on the radio doesn't help. Nor does the presence of Mahmoud, a young Israeli Arab bellhop who repeatedly appears in his room without knocking and begs the American to help him get to his brother's wedding in New York. This Kleiner agrees to do after the kid comes to his rescue when he cracks his head on a marble slab of great religious significance near Christ's tomb. In America, Mahmoud pitches a great idea for a blockbuster and becomes a Hollywood player himself—not to mention close partners with "the big-breasted Borscht Belt beauty" of Kleiner's dreams. Larry David has nothing on Friedman in finding the absurd in ordinary situations, but the short stories here have a dark underside. In one of them, a Jewish writer numbed by Nazi terrors struggles with an assignment from Joseph Goebbels to write an entertaining satirical piece for the party tabloid. In another story, a former Iowa English teacher, asked to write stories in an afterlife where no literature exists, struggles to remember the plots of great books so he can pass them off as his own.

Jewish humor lives in this frequently hilarious and thoughtful collection by the author of such classics as Stern (1962) and The Lonely Guy's Book of Life (1978).

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5040-1173-0

Page Count: 254

Publisher: Open Road Integrated Media

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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