THE HAND BEFORE THE EYE by Donald Friedman


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An earnest debut, winner of the Mid-List Press First Series Award for the Novel, about the spiritual malaise and gradual awakening of a New York attorney,. David Farbman is the kind of Jew who would identify with Job if he ever read the Bible. Which, of course, he doesn—t. Once idealistic, in a 1960s sort of way, Farbman is now basically an ambulance-chaser, way behind on his mortgages and stuck with a coterie of clients who seem to have stepped out of a Charles Addams cartoon. His firm is on the verge of bankruptcy, his Christian wife Ann Marie hasn—t slept with him in years, and his banker is about to call in his loans. Can things get any worse? Well, let’s just say they can get worse before they get better. At a funeral in Illinois, Farbman meets and has a one-night stand with Chicago actress Leah. A secular Jew like himself, Leah has come under the influence of Hasidim, and she takes Farbman to meet the charismatic Rabbi Sholem. Farbman doesn—t exactly feel the Spirit of God hovering over the rabbi, but he is intrigued and begins to wonder how his life would change if he had faith. Back in New York, however, he finds himself faced with the news that his wife has developed cancer. Talk about guilt: he even comes to believe that he gave it to her. Eventually, it all becomes too much to bear. Farbman walks away from his marriage, his family, and his career, and goes off to the country to become . . . a sheep farmer. In the process, not fully believing it himself, he also becomes a Jew. And in the end, he receives the reward of the just, which is far more than he could have hoped for. A bit two-dimensional in a Sunday-school kind of way, Friedman’s story is refreshingly earnest and free enough of pretense to win over most doubters.

Pub Date: Dec. 21st, 1999
ISBN: 0-922811-42-3
Page count: 266pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2000