MASTER OF DREAMS: A Memoir of Isaac Bashevis Singer by Dvorah Telushkin

MASTER OF DREAMS: A Memoir of Isaac Bashevis Singer

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For most of the last 14 years of his life, I.B. Singer was assisted by Telushkin, a bright young woman who, in this charming and often poignant memoir, recalls their relationship with striking candor. When Telushkin offered to drive the Nobel laureate to Bard College for the seminar he was teaching--in exchange for being allowed to audit the course--she never expected that he would agree, or that it would lead to a lengthy and turbulent professional and personal relationship with the last of the great Yiddish writers. The man she encountered was a natural charmer, an inveterate flatterer whose childlike demeanor could include the tantrums and dark moods of a spoiled child. Over the course of their time together, she went from being an unpaid chauffeur to serving as his secretary, amanuensis, and eventually a translator of some 20 of his short stories; she also became a close friend, frequent confidant, and surrogate daughter. Telushkin eventually found a second career for herself as a storyteller, and Master of Dreams is a storyteller's book; although it has a loosely chronological structure, it is really a series of thematically linked anecdotes, illuminating a complex, often disturbing character. In the course of his nearly 90 years of life, Singer abandoned or wounded nearly everyone he had been close to, from the son he ignored to his wife of 51 years. Telushkin is no exception, and much of the book's power comes from the excruciating deterioration of their friendship as the psychic demons that drove the writer combined with the no less potent hobgoblins of age and physical breakdown. But the portrait that emerges is by and large a loving one, often lovely to read, honest to a fault, and the man portrayed comes across as an admirable figure, albeit one with huge flaws.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0641969058
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Morrow