Page 47 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 7 (1948-1949)

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35
BLOCH----THE YEAR’S BOOKSHELF
an American town entirely permeated by every form of class and
race hatred is
Seneca
,
U. S. A.
by John Roeburt (N. Y., Curl, ’47).
I t is the story of a movie porter who is head of the “Jesocrats”
which is surreptitiously supported by the “best” citizens. He
makes much trouble for Milton Kahan, whose Gentile family
perishes under oppression. The novel strangely contains some
vicious anti-Zionist statements.
Mrs. Marcia Davenport’s novel
East Side
,
West Side
(N. Y.,
Scribner’s, ’47) is a sort of song of love to Manhattan, which
accompanies an impassioned recital of one week of decision in the
life of Jessie Bourne, a wealthy but unhappy woman on the verge
of the 40’s. I t is rich in New York backgrounds — mixed na-
tionalities, tenement dwellers, cafe society and the inner circle
of aristocracy. Within the person of the heroine, a very likeable
person, is embodied the mingling of several racial strains. The
daughter of a brilliantly vital Jewish immigrant actress and “a
great roaring bull” of an Irish contractor she is unhappily married
and meets Mark Dwyer, a man she could love, an Air Force gen-
eral who had been a foreign correspondent and an underground
worker. His origins are comparable to her own; he shares her
gusto for highly seasoned food and highly seasoned people. And
he senses beneath her worldliness unrealized passion and convic-
tion. All the social and emotional considerations which are the
background of the crowding events of “one week of decision,”
have been fused into the novel. The climactic love scene between
Jessie and Mark is memorable for its explicit, suffusing tenderness.
An intensely written novel taking as its subject the assimila-
tion of Jewish culture in America is
The growing roots
by Cornelia
Jessey (N. Y., Crown, ’47). It has for background the migration
of Ezekiel Gruenebaum from Russia to New York in the 1890’s,
and for foreground, the spiritual development of his daughter,
Leah Greentree, in Colorado during the 1920’s, and 30’s. Leah
is influenced by three different men: her father Ezekiel whose
faith is in internationalism and the spiritual brotherhood of man;
Azriel, a rabbinical student who, while not a Zionist, sets up an
austere theological ideal against the broad, cultural ideal of her
father; and, Lorenzo, an ex-Catholic and a radical materialist,
who is Leah’s friend at college, but from whose ideas she turns
away. Concluding that race is not important to her but that
spirit and belief are, Leah is drawn to a religious view of life which
is, at least, as Christian as it is Jewish and she decides that her
destiny is here and now. The greentree takes root in its new soil,
and yet, in the cultural wind, bends backward. It is a deeply felt
and ably executed novel, but above all a thoughtful one. Robert
McLaughlin’s first novel
The side of the angels
(N. Y., Knopf,