AMERICAN SCRAPBOOK by Jerome Charyn
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AMERICAN SCRAPBOOK

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Previously this talented writer has utilized the gutsier variety of American-Jewish vernacular to tunnel around in arbitrarily structured isolations. This time Charyn masks and tightens to a scream the mumblings of despair in an unlikely but accommodating situation--the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II. In two camps where most of the inmates were Americans, the spectrum of adjustment is classic--well-meaning but uneasy collaboration; traditional and/or nihilistic militancy; a bunch of oldsters spinning out their own tenuous directions from the past; innocence betrayed (a young girl pregnant, a boy clutching his Sea Scouts suit); the lost and bewildered. The onlooker, Harold Tanaka, clinging to love, dreams in the end of dancing in mud; Chuichi, the hero to all little' brothers, resists hopelessly, although knowing he ""never wanted to be a warrior."" The muddled authorities set about separating the ""No-No's"" from the ""Yes-Yes's""--a grim joke, as is the compulsive duplicity of all human beings caught in meaninglessness. Sour humor, a sourer message, this is an almost allegorical suspension of ""the hostility, the shame, the inadequacy, the confusion, that we all. . . share.

Pub Date: May 16th, 1969
Publisher: Viking