Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Book Review: What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank
"What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank": Starts out like the story I expected, in which four Jewish parents meet in a house and talk, but quickly turns funnier, sadder, weirder, and more meaningful than I expected, with a devastating ending. (Would make a good play.)
"Sister Hills": My favorite, jumps through time with the relationship of two women who founded a settlement in Israel, and has incredible resonance and character. I don't know of a better story that simulataneously faces the paradoxical tragedy of these settlements head-on and yet fits it into the long Jewish story. Almost Biblical. This one was so good that I was slightly disappointed with all that followed.
“How We Avenged the Blums”: Sort of run-of-the-mill growing-up-Jewish story, but it gets a lot right that Inglourious Basterds got wrong, and especially, the last line is perfect.
“Peep Show”: Outlandish and dream-like, but I'm left wondering what the point is. The setting is a stroke of brilliance.
“Everything I Know About My Family on My Mother’s Side”: This one didn't even make much of an impact on me. Maybe because it didn't translate well to audiobook.
“Camp Sundown”: This is more like it, with a bizarre set of circumstances at camp and guilt underlying the farce. A little too bizarre, actually.
"The Reader": I found this one exciting because part is set in the old Elliot Bay Bookstore, and it uses the setting very well. But otherwise it seems a bit like Englander's version of one of Stephen King's "write about being a writer" stories, and I just don't get that genre.
“Free Fruit for Young Widows”: The third outstanding story (after the first two), again with a strong historical grounding, and the one that is most directly about the Holocaust, after that tragedy is hanging around outside the windows in each of the other stories.