PASSIONS by Isaac Bashevis Singer
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The seventh collection of Singer's short stories, again centered on the lives of Yiddish-speaking Polish Jews in Europe and the Americas before and after the holocaust--but here the "whims and passions" which destroy, illuminate, and possess a life, often slip into a supernatural dimension. "Everything can become a passion--even serving God." There are demonic appearances: two witch-like sisters, oddly complementary in temperament, lie in silence as an Evil One approaches their lover in the night; a monstrous, ugly schoolgirl, mad with desire, takes the place of one man's beautiful, selfish dead wife; there is even a howling heifer which echoes the yearning within the heart of a young man. In "Old Love" an elderly man recaptures desire while the woman he would marry commits suicide to join her dead husband--and her death leaves a rich, sensuous sadness and a wonder about why a man is born and why he dies. In "A Sabbath in Portugal" the narrator, invited to a home of Marranos (Jews forced to convert to Christianity), is flooded with remembered Sabbath peace and reunited with a dead beloved. "The Pair" tells of two brilliant but demented sojourners who live within each other's outsized image. Through the twenty stories Singer continues to evolve his characters with the sustained scrutiny of kinship and a candlelit intimacy. Physical presences, speech and circumstances flicker into being as sharply as that cosmic instant in each tale--when a suprareality abruptly becomes as real as a Miami balcony or a winter road in rural Poland. Many of these stories have appeared in the New Yorker.
Pub Date: Oct. 6th, 1975
ISBN: 0374529116
Page count: 326pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1975


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