YOSL RAKOVER TALKS TO GOD

A remarkable testament to faith in the face of suffering. Zvi Kolitz is a Lithuanian Jew who left Europe in 1940 for Jerusalem, where he built a life as a daring Zionist freedom fighter. Just over a year after WWII ended, he wrote a gut-wrenching short story, —Yosl Rakover Talks to God,— the last confessions of a fictional Jewish man who died in the Warsaw Ghetto. The story ran in Di Yiddishe Tsaytung, a Jewish paper in Buenos Aires, on September 25, 1946. Later, Kolitz moved to New York, penned a few obscure books, contributed columns to The Jewish Week and Der Algemeine Journal, and lectured at Yeshiva University (you—ll still find him there each Wednesday). His short story, however, got separated from its author. It began to circulate, sans Kolitz’s byline, as a true testimony unearthed in the Holocaust’s aftermath. In 1954, Di Goldene Keyt, a Yiddish quarterly in Tel Aviv, ran —Yosl Rakover— as —an authentic document.— The next year, it was broadcast on a Berlin radio station, and was run in the Parisian Zionist journal La Terre RetrouvÇe. Thomas Mann praised the text for offering a rare glimpse into the human condition. This volume reunites author and story, laying to rest any rumors that the document was written by someone who died in the Warsaw Ghetto. The story could stand alone: Rakover, who boldly privileges Torah over God, declares that despite everything God has done to —make me cease to believe in You . . . I die exactly as I have lived, an unshakeable believer in You.— This new edition also includes an essay by Paul Badde about Kolitz, a piece by Levinas about —Yosl Rakover,— and Leon Weiseltier’s somewhat anticlimactic reply to Levinas. The short story remains a fiction, but, as Levinas reminds us, that does not undermine its truth: Indeed, it is true as —only fiction can be.—

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 1999

ISBN: 0-375-40451-1

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1999

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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