A quiet, satisfying collection well-situated in the American Jewish literary tradition.

A Teacher of the Holocaust and Other Stories

In Teichman’s (co-editor: Truth and Lamentation: Stories and Poems on the Holocaust, 1994) short story collection, characters strive to form meaningful connections to each other and to their traditions.

In the collection’s first, titular story, set in New York City and the surrounding areas in 1975, a divorced professor named Martin begins a relationship through the classifieds with a Frenchwoman named Rachel, who is a Holocaust survivor. While seemingly a simple tale about two lonely, middle-aged people looking for love, the story highlights the immense gulf between European Jews who suffered in the Holocaust and their American cousins who escaped it, “by an accident of fortune.” The second story in the collection features a different professor; he also teaches a course on Holocaust literature and also meets an unstable woman who challenges his worldview. In this case, the woman is a half-Jewish student whose plan to formally convert to Judaism is derailed by her bouts with mental illness. In each of the book’s 12 stories, there are small, but unbridgeable, distances between the characters, be they professor and student, parent and child, man and wife, two friends or two brothers. The majority of these characters are Jewish men who came of age in New York in the years following World War II. Their stories reflect not only settings, but sensibilities of the mid- to late 20th century. While Teichman’s stories are by no means groundbreaking, they are well-crafted. Fixations on aging and health, as well as the frequent views back toward the second world war and the Holocaust, mark this as an older generation’s book, though these calm, experienced stories hold meaning for readers of any age. Teichman’s protagonists are men who live largely in the world of the mind, and much of their stories’ action is internal. Small transgressions are committed. Small mercies are granted. Small redemptions are achieved. Ultimately, the reader is left with a simple message: “A man can do wrong, but he can improve.”

A quiet, satisfying collection well-situated in the American Jewish literary tradition.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-62838-460-4

Page Count: 285

Publisher: Page Publishing, Inc.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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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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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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