Page 28 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 49

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
cries. Or the feel of a certain piece of fabric: Rivka’s dress when
I put my hands around her chest and squeeze her and she
screams and Malkele consoles her and convinces her to say noth­
ing (Badanes, 81).
Fictionists, o f course, a ttend to such detail as the ir stock-in-
trade; taken together, they provide what Eudora Welty calls
“the field o f the h ea r t” — the particulars o f time and place
that outstrip even the best efforts o f historians and theologians.
Not surprisingly — given the way
The Final Opus o f Leon Solomon
is told and who did the telling — Solomon goes abou t the busi­
ness o f shoring up the fragments o f his ru in as a novelist ra th e r
than as a “historian .” What is surprising, however, is the way
tha t Badanes, American born and in his early fifties, can so
deeply imagine the contours and textures — the sheer
sensu­
ousness
— o f a world he did not experience first-hand.
No doub t there are those who will be surprised at my surprise,
and who will hasten to rem ind me that
The Final Opus o f Leon
Solomon
is simply ano the r instance o f the power tha t first-rate
writing packs. They would, o f course, be right. Like Rhoda
Lerman and Tova Reich, Je rom e Badanes knows what he is
writing about, and he is a marvelous writer. Which is also to
say tha t repo rts about the demise o f Jewish-American fiction
are both exaggerated and very p rem a tu re . With novelists as ex­
citing as these, it is a safe bet tha t the beat o f Jewish-American
literature will go on
Works Cited
A l t e r , R o b e r t .
“Confronting the Holocaust: Three Israeli Novels,”
Commentary
41 (March 1966): 157-165.
B a d a n e s , J e r o m e .
The Final Opus of Leon Solomon.
New York: Alfred
A. Knopf, 1988.
H o w e , I r v i n g ,
ed.
Jewish-American Stories.
New York: New American
Library, 1977.
K r e m e r ,
S.
L i l l i a n .
Witness Through the Imagination.
Detroit: Wayne
State University Press, 1989.
L e r m a n , R h o d a .
God’s Ear.
New York: Henry Holt, 1989.
S o l o t a r o f f , T h e o d o r e .
“American-Jewish Writers: On Edge Once
More,”
New York Times Book Review
(December 18, 1988): 1, 31,
33.
R e i c h , T o v a .
Master of the Return.
New York: Harcourt Brace
Jovanovich, 1988.