Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Series Page

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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p. v

About the Author and Editor

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p. vi

Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface: To Be Ripped Away

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pp. ix-xxii

These thirteen stories bear testimony to more than sixteen years of setting roots in my new country. Almost half of them were written before June 7, 1987, when my family and I left the Soviet Union. The other stories in this collection have been composed on route or after coming to America...

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Apple Cider Vinegar

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pp. 1-11

Last fall I went to the Tishinsky farmers’ market for apples. There were several markets in Moscow that I loved. There was the Leningradsky—solid and reliable, with stable prices, where you could always find homemade cottage cheese, crunchy pickles, and magnificent carnations...

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Rusty

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pp. 12-22

In the salty longing for his wife (away on a three-month business trip), Lyampin bought a dog.
I’ve summed it up as “bought a dog,” but the acquisition didn’t happen all at once, although it was a result of the same longing, heavy and dense, that chased him from his apartment and kept him...

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The Lanskoy Road

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pp. 23-30

I’m walking through a park in winter. The snow, February’s snow, is bluish from repeated thaws and frosts. The knot-eyes of the yellow birch trees are black. The path is icy, rutted, slippery.
Suddenly, like a beating heart, or an ax cracking through ice: tap-tap-tap. A woodpecker, almost as large as a small child...

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Young Jews and Two Gymnasium Girls

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pp. 31-37

A small boat was disappearing over the horizon. Judin walked on the shore, tracing the high-water mark in ridges of seaweed. His friend Eusebius, lost in thought, hadn’t even heard him suggest they get something to eat. The pointed shadow of a wind-twisted cypress on the shore lay across the waves...

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He, She and the Others

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pp. 38-51

He was carried inside with a fractured skull, blood oozing through a hastily fastened handkerchief. She helped her husband into bed, unable to get an explanation of what had happened from the Other One—he who had carried her husband inside. Out on the street it was one...

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Jonah and Sarah

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pp. 52-65

Underneath the mosaic vault of a pine forest a tomtit whistles a silver trill:“Ti-ti-ti-ti-ti-tlititititliti.” Then he stops. The sounds stream along tree branches, droop down rustling trunks to the ground, fly away through blue vistas of sky. And again:“Ti-ti-ti-ti-tli-titititli.”...

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In the Reeds

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pp. 66-77

It was a sweet little gang we had formed: Lilac, Jaws, Bow, Scalapendra, and I, Rogulya (“Cuckold,” that is) or Rygulya (that is, “Belcher”), depending on the circumstances.
Every year we drag ourselves to the Reeds, where we meet up at the end of summer and stick together until the beginning...

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Tsukerman and His Children

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pp. 78-89

This whole story started with a long conversation in the trolley car and continued during a ride on the Moscow metro. After emerging from the underground, Tsukerman and I had a difficult time untying the knots of our entangled thoughts. He was fanatically, fervently loyal to the letter of Judaism...

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Dismemberers

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pp. 90-96

It remained for me to place her beautiful body into the black leather case littered with early birdcherry blossoms, and to wipe off a few unwanted tears with the sleeve of my shirt. I had decided to give my Olympia away. My thirty years of affection. My passion. The sole witness of my flights...

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David and Goliath

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pp. 97-108

But why don’t you judge for yourself . . .
David was told to stand to the right of the turnstile. The right side was designed to allow passage or block the way—that is, together with its other side, the left. Both sides looked like hands with rounded plastic stumps. David was waiting for Mama, clinging...

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Hurricane Bob

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pp. 109-139

Geyer stood at the ocean shore, where the concrete parapet separated the parking lot from the straw-colored sand. It was August. The sun was concluding its arc, moving westward over the very tip of Cape Cod. It was the end of August on the Cape, and the evening was approaching. Fishermen were making their way...

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Hände Hoch!

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pp. 140-152

We were visiting the Wassers in Athol, a small town in rural north-central Massachusetts. We had met the Wassers—Ernest and Judith—during a trip to Spain. On the first day of the tour their seats happened to be next to ours on the bus. We hit it off with them, so for the rest of the trip we sat together...

Old Writer Foreman

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pp. 153-170

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Afterword: David Shrayer-Petrov, a Jewish Writer in Russia and America

Maxim D. Shrayer

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pp. 171-182

The dual name of David Shrayer-Petrov betokens his literary career. Born David Peysakhovich Shraer (Shrayer is an Anglicized spelling), he was descended from Podolian millers and Lithuanian rabbis. His father, Peysakh (Petr) Borukhovich Shrayer, an automobile engineer, came from an affluent Jewish family...

About the Translators

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pp. 183-184