THE JOURNEYS OF DAVID TOBACK: As Retold by his Granddaughter Carole Malkin by Carole Malkin

THE JOURNEYS OF DAVID TOBACK: As Retold by his Granddaughter Carole Malkin

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Adding descriptive touches, making fabric where there was only thread, Carole Malkin took the five handwritten notebooks of her butcher-grandfather's memories and fashioned a picaresque out of them. Born in 1875, David lived in little Shumsk until a rebbe's letter recommending the boy's holiness and receptivity to learning Torah sent him, at 14, on the road to the yeshiva in Kishinev. Stopping at Proskurov, he boarded with a rich but unspeakably unfriendly uncle and aunt. And, in the ensuing shuffle of circumstance, Yeshiva got a little lost. David traded sidelocks and gabardines for more secular garb; working as foreman of a tobacco plantation in Bessarabia--at 16!--he learned to ride an Arabian horse like a Cossack, a very un-Jewish thing to do. Then it was back to Shumsk--to resentful parents, who accused David of desertion, and eventual marriage to Chaya. (Even this arranged marriage had its excitement: two days after the wedding, Chaya and her parents were packed off to jail for illegal brandy-selling, a sentence they had kept well hidden from the new groom!) And, when David finally went off alone to America (the spasmodic emotionalism attending this common leaving-of-others-behind is particularly well-caught), it was only to be bounced back immediately to Antwerp, not allowed in until his second try. Such prodigal and precocious settings-out were not uncommon in Jewish Russia; and though real hints of character are scant here (one instance of adultery apart, all bad things in David's life are someone else's fault), the tales have the tetchy, miscellaneous taste of the authentic. Solid source-work of the period, a sprightly account of places-I've-been and people-I've-seen for any time.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1981
Publisher: Schocken