CIRCLING EDEN by Carol Magun


A Novel of Israel in Stories
Email this review


 One woman's sexually overactive junior year abroad in 1973. Rebecca Harrison always thought she'd go to Paris for her third year of college, but a vague sense of incompleteness--not to the mention the fact that her boyfriend couldn't tell that she's Jewish--changes her plans. Rebecca finds herself on her way to Israel, knowing not a single person in her student program nor a single word of Hebrew. Soon after arriving in Jerusalem, she moves out of the Hebrew University dorms and into a rented room in the home of a woman named Mrs. Lipski. The room belongs to Mrs. Lipski's son, Yigal, a soldier who only comes home on the weekends--when Rebecca is expected to make other arrangements. One weekday, however, Rebecca finds Yigal in their shared bed. They have sex, and afterward ``Rebecca felt the hot sun through the window, the sweat on Yigal's back, and knew it was for Yigal that she had come here, to this country, this house, this bed.'' That might be news to Yossi, the settler who is her next lover after Yigal, or to Avner, the Yemenite student for whom she rips up her return ticket to America. Along the way she has casual affairs and serious flirtations with Ethan, the son of a rabbi from Las Vegas who subsequently discovers he's gay; her sick old professor; and Avner's teacher, a married man. Rebecca finally settles down with Avner, but he leaves for reserve duty just before the Yom Kippur War and never returns. Only then does Rebecca decide to go home. Whatever dramatic tension exists is broken off at the end of each story so that even tragedy, when it occurs, leaves the reader cold. Newcomer Magun casts these romps as a quest for ethnic identity, but while the passages, whether viewed as short stories or as chapters, are sometimes affecting, the sum is a tawdry series of episodes.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-89733-412-4
Page count: 182pp
Publisher: Academy Chicago
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1994