Not all the stories are this strong. to elevate a story beyond a clever premise. Despite its wry humor, "The GUgul of Park Avenue," about a middle-aged gentile who suddenly "reaUzes" his past-life Jewishness, ultimately feels like second-rate PhiUp Roth. "Reb Kringle," which examines a disgruntled Hasidic department-store Santa, verges on Englander sometimes seems unable the realm of lyricism while still drawing characters that are human and humanly fascinating. Each of Astrid's temporary homes is peopled by vivid characters, among them an ex-stripper who has been turned on to the Lord by an attractive minister, a Vietnam vet sentimentaUty. And the title story, concerning a Hasidic husband's marital problems and his rabbi's unsettling solution, ends in easy irony, housewife (her Mary Kay makeover living scavenging the hüls of Los who introduces Astrid to sex, a witty and creepy caricature of a suburban moments of the novel) and a bevy of practical women who make their Angeles for junk to sell and who teach Astrid to "glean from the wreckage what could be remade and resold." The strange crannies of fos- of Astrid is one of the most startling avoiding the emotional complexity the subject matter seems to demand.
The Missouri Review – University of Missouri
Published: Oct 5, 1999
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