ELIJAH VISIBLE: Stories by Thane Rosenbaum


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A first collection from Rosenbaum, a Manhattan lawyer turned writer, draws heavily on the author's memories of growing up as the child of Holocaust survivors. ""The Holocaust,"" Rosenbaum writes, ""is the great equalizer of stark interior dramas: Reordering nerves, creating strengths and frailties, transforming individuals into something they would not have otherwise been."" And those individuals, the ones who survive, will in turn transform those with whom they come in contact, none more so than their children--this is the running theme, the major preoccupation, of these nine stories. Adam Posner, the central figure, is a multifaceted version of the author himself, here a tennis prodigy growing up in Miami Beach, there a lawyer struggling against demons from the past, elsewhere a child summering in a Catskills bungalow colony with a crazy, gambling-addicted mother. Using the pieces like a fragmented mirror, Rosenbaum plays out nine variations on what life could have been for a son of Holocaust survivors, dark improvisations on the themes of death, distrust, and psychic dislocation. In the most successful tales--generally the longer ones--Adam is primarily a witness, a device that effectively allows the reader entry into a psychologically troubled world. Two stories set in the Miami Beach of the '60s, ""The Rabbi Double-Faults"" and ""Lost, In a Sense,"" are particularly astute in their understanding of the inner life of childhood and the emotional confusions generated by the adult world. The weakest story, ""Cattle Car Complex,"" reduces these insights to a weak irony worthy of a failed Twilight Zone episode. Rosenbaum is a writer of promise who must learn to eschew the overwrought metaphor and occasional easy irony. The best pieces here are quite good indeed, however, and make their author a voice worth hearing.

Pub Date: April 4th, 1996
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: St. Martin's