Page 70 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 42

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
uals. They reflect the stages in the au tho r’s development from
her youthful recollections o f her family du ring and after the War
to her marriage and separation. The language, characterization
and imagery are at all times strong, vivid and fresh.
W h e re a s m u ch o f Fay Zw icky ’s w r i t in g is in te n s e ly
introspective, Alan Collins is more given to “objective” narrative;
he is less preoccupied with his own passions, conflicts and atti­
tudes than with the observation o f the strengths, foibles, and de­
lusions o f those he chooses as subjects. While most o f the stories
in his single collection
Tsorres, Troubles
(1983) are grounded in
reality, there are others that hint at the mystical with talk o f
dybbuks and suggestions o f reincarnation. Some bo rder still
closer on the surreal. The most interesting stories, however, are
those which tell o f the na rra to r’s orphaned childhood in Sydney,
o f the Depression and the post-War years which he knew. Illu­
mined here are various encounters with anti-Semitism both at
school and in the street, and the conflicts between the established
Jewish “aristocracy” and the new arrivals to Australia standing
out like eyesores with their “peculiar behaviour, habits, and
speech.” Sound narratives in their own right, they are also perti­
nent social commentaries of value in giving a picture o f a society
now receded into history. It is a society that the author, born in
1928, experienced at first hand.
About this writer’s own collections o f stories
On Firmer Shores
(1981) and
A Universe o f Clowns
(1983), little will be said. Many o f
the stories deal with aspects o f the migrant experience o f Jews
coming to Australia. They attempt to depict the inevitable prob­
lems o f adjustment, and the influences that lead the individual to
be caught between two cultures. They attempt, too, to raise the
issues o f faith after the Holocaust, and o f the purpose o f survival
as seen by some o f the protagonists (for example, the impulse
through memoir or poetry to serve as witness to what has been).
The traumas o f intermarriage are touched upon as are o ther hu ­
man issues of particular interest to the au thor — those setting be­
lief against reason, those setting belief, reason and the vagaries of
emotion one against the other, and the interrelations o f free will,
determinism and chance that govern the world.
A Universe o f
Clowns,
more especially, tells o f people ever in search for love
and consolation, and for values and meaning in an impersonal
world that sets sharp limits upon all that a man may know, attain
to, hope for and believe.