A clever, humane and deeply satisfying novel.

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In Halaban’s (The Perfect Wish, 2013) latest novel, an emotionally traumatized, middle-aged man gets the chance to confront his past and transform its meaning.

In 1977, Maury Green is a 50-year-old real estate salesman living in New Haven, Connecticut. For almost 30 years, he’s seemed old and defeated—ever since he returned home after a short stint in the Israeli army, following his service in World War II, during which he moved bodies in Dachau. Even more soul-killing was his treatment by Israeli soldiers from a rival political faction, who subjected him to a mock execution by firing squad, leaving him humiliated and broken-spirited. At his job, Maury used to be a top salesman, but lately he’s had a long string of lean months; the only respect he ever seems to get is when he writes checks for Jewish fund-raising efforts. At one such event, he recognizes Israeli Gen. Yaacov B. Ronen, the possible future prime minister of Israel and the cruel leader of his long-ago humiliation—but Ronen doesn’t recognize him. When Maury is asked to be a go-between for the general, who has some priceless, ancient scrolls to sell, he conceives a daring plan of revenge and redemption. Halaban makes palpable the little routines and rhythms of Maury’s life, which later become helpful in working out his plans. He effectively establishes Maury as both a nebbish and a mensch; for example, Maury resents his more successful co-workers but also buys a daily breakfast for a homeless woman he calls Queen Esther. As the book goes on, Maury’s deep sensitivity becomes more apparent. The scrolls, for example, become a litmus test. The general cynically exploits them: “ ‘Remember the camps, Maury. Remember the camps,’ he whispered….Maury wasn’t buying.” Later, Maury gains courage and hope from two academics’ passionate, awed response to them: “We have to save the scrolls, Maury. We have to save them,” says one. Throughout, Halaban makes Maury’s transformation believable and highly engaging.

A clever, humane and deeply satisfying novel.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1629010373

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Inkwater Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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