From Josephus to Philip Roth, the stories of the Jewish wars of one kind or another continue. Charyn (Once Upon a Droshky and Upon the Darkening Green) is both the captive and the victim of this particular background but his broad talent for the grotesque still does not redeem these dreary, weary comedies of the Bronx and Lower East Side. The novella 1944 is the story of two brothers and their struggles for freedom and it's a colloquial comedy which leaves Charyn's lack of language (dis and dat) and movement cruelly exposed. The younger boy's love of fantasy, however, is the key to what is essential in the best of Charyn's work. In Imberman, where a mysterious Jewish weight-lifter becomes a novelist, in Faigele the Idiotke in which a sad sack young ""artist-type"" comes to terms with his nature, the metaphysics are better harmonized with the setting and plot. But like the Yiddish writer in the title story, who gives in to his importuning, starving translator and permits him to offer old stories better left unpublished, Charyn offers mostly the notations of a ghetto of the mind. Most of the material offered here is imperfect, some of it interesting.