MISSING PIECES: Stories by Stanislaw Benski


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Benski was a Polish writer, 1922-88, whose stories (this collection, the first of his work to appear in the US, is culled from a number of his books) most often had to do with the special species of the disappeared, the Polish Jews, the last survivors of whom Benski personally watched dwindle as the director of a Warsaw nursing home. The nursing-home stories are poetic and pathetic sketches--but the muscle in Benski's gift is more to be seen in some of the other tales, such as ""A Phone Call from London"" and ""On The Corner."" In these, Jewish survivors of the Ghetto and the Holocaust try to make reconnection to a Warsaw and to fellow Jews they cannot be sure still exist. What does exist are the things each person remembers, keyed to places very likely destroyed. This half-comic, half-heartbreaking inventory of anecdotes and histories is the engine of Benski's talent--as it is for his fellow Warsaw Jewish writer, Isaac Bashevis Singer: the stories resemble Singer's in tone, if not in artfulness, with the same surfeit of memory. So much remembered, raucous life falls eerily on the emptied reality of Warsaw. Powerful.

Pub Date: July 18th, 1990
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich