Village stories that deftly lift a curtain on a world of friendly humor and touching details of Jewish life.

A VILLAGE ROMANCE

A novel set in a small Jewish village chronicles an unlikely romance.

This latest book from Binder (The Zombie Cat, 2017, etc.) continues his stories about the village of Chelm “on the edge of the Black Forest, in a part of the world that was sometimes Poland, sometimes Russia, briefly Austria, and maybe Germany.” The author has related the fictional goings-on in this little village in five works. This sixth installment centers on the wisest man in Chelm, Rabbi Kibbitz, and an unexpected late-in-life romance he enjoys. The book opens with a note of hyperbolic wry humor that skillfully captures the tone of the whole volume. The good rabbi is officiating at the wedding of a young couple who have succumbed to the temptation to write their own vows. As those vows drone on and on, various members of the congregation drift off to sleep. When the couple are finally done with their pledges and married, they’re frozen in place. “They both made so many vows to each other,” Rabbi Kibbitz explains, “that they can’t move for fear of breaking their promises.” One of the most surprising marriages in the village turns out to be the rabbi’s own. He weds Mrs. Chaipul, “owner and operator of Chelm’s sole kosher restaurant, the village’s chief caterer, and the best wedding planner” within four days’ ride. She insists on being called Mrs. Chaipul even after their marriage (her first husband’s last name was Klammerdinger, so she’s a bit skittish). Their union is a happy one, gently and wonderfully portrayed by Binder. The slim book’s descriptions of small-town Jewish life glow with affection, including Rabbi Kibbitz’s irritation concerning his obligation to eat his wife’s tough-as-nails matzah balls (“After five minutes your jaws began to ache, and the villagers started to wonder whether Mrs. Chaipul’s family had all died of starvation or lockjaw”). In all of these engaging tales, the jokes and human pathos are expertly balanced.

Village stories that deftly lift a curtain on a world of friendly humor and touching details of Jewish life.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-940060-29-3

Page Count: 122

Publisher: Light Publications

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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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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