GIFTS by Isaac Bashevis Singer

GIFTS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

These two slim volumes inaugurate the Jewish Publication Society's "The Author's Workshop" series--which will present writing-in-progress or previously unpublished (or uncollected) stories. And since these works will appear only in expensive limited editions (3000 copies at most, "conceived primarily for the members of the Jewish Publication Society"), they would usually not be considered for mainstream reviews. As a Nobel Prize-winner, however, Singer is likely to attract some attention even in this restricted form: six previously uncollected stories, three of which are not scheduled to appear in The Image and Other Stories (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, scheduled for May 1985); plus an author's introduction, in which Singer offers his rational/mystical view of God as "an eternal belletrist. . . God was creativity." And there is sure to be literary-world interest in the three excerpts from Brodkey's long-anticipated novel, A Party of Animals, two of which have already appeared in The New Yorker: in "Ceil," narrator Wiley Silenowicz reconstructs the life of his husband-deserted mother, who died when he was two (the spirited American daughter of a ferocious Russian-Jewish mystic); in the longer "Lila," Wiley recalls/analyzes his devastating adolescence as the adopted son of a dying father and a dying, demanding, manipulative mother; and in the previously unpublished "Angel," Wiley is a Harvard undergraduate, circa 1951, reacting--with densely philosophical/psychological discussion--to a seraphic vision in Harvard Yard, to his unlikely impulses toward the sacred and mystical. (A brief introduction makes explicit the autobiographical nature of these pieces--which, though full of disturbing material and starkly lyrical prose, don't suggest what form or focus the novel might take.) In all: certainly a distinguished send-off for this special-interest, limited-edition series.
Pub Date: March 26th, 1985
Publisher: Jewish Publication Society
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1985




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