THE LAWS OF RETURN by Cameron Stracher


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 Seemingly autobiographical debut by Manhattan-based attorney Stracher tells the story of Colin Stone (Hebrew name Chaim, for his late grandfather), raised as a secular Jew by his intellectual parents. Colin, a lawyer, whose WASP-ish first name is something of an albatross to which characters refer several times, is an uneasily divided soul who spends the length of the story struggling to define himself as an American Jew (or Jewish-American). This theme is laced tightly into the more conventional concerns of the bildungsroman, as the book follows its protagonist-narrator from his bris (the ritual circumcision of eight-day-old Jewish males) through to his final assertion of Jewish identity in the face of bigotry in his law firm. Along the way, Colin discovers sex, drugs, and the tenuous ties of friendship. A typically horny teenager of the 1970s, he spends a lot of time wooing and pursuing women, with mixed success. He endures an equally checkered series of best friends, the most sympathetic of them being his gay southern college roommate Dirk. Stracher tells Colin's story in styles that careen wildly from a shopworn magical realism--the infant Colin comments sagely on his mother's copy of Freud; he has two encounters with a mysterious, ``foppish'' angel, the second on a visit to heaven--to a vaguely Philip Roth satirical bent (without the bite or smarts of its model), and then on to an endlessly riffing string of one-liners and wisecracks. A mirthless and out-of-control imitation of Lenny Bruce/Lord Buckley monologues. (First printing of 25,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 10th, 1996
ISBN: 0-688-14902-2
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1996


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