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Book Reviews 139 answer these questions. On the contrary, his novel ends with them: What is wrong with the Levovs' life? What life could be less reprehensible than theirs? The adulteries? But these occur after the fact, after Merry has shattered the Levovs' existence with her violence. Their complacency? But they are far from complacent regarding their daughter's difficulties, or the turmoil the sixties have brought. As Louis Menand rightly argues in his New Yorker review, this is a complex book, and different readers will arrive at different conclusions. He suggests a variety of interpretations, from political allegory-how Vietnam and Watergate destroyed the spirit engendered by the defeat of Fascism-to biblical analogues-the Eden story or the Book of Job. The interpretation Menand favors, however, derives from everything Roth has written: the problematics ofbeing a Jew and raising a family in predominantly gentile America. Swede Levov's error lies in thinking that he can "preserve the old values of work, family, and fair play but discard the atavistic compulsions of mindless discipline, authority, and tradition." The Swede is "blindsided" by "the culture ofpermissiveness" that undermines Seymour's genuine tolerance and sympathy of"therapy, analysis, and liberation" that the Levovs' dinner guests reveal and that bring him down along with everything he once held dear. As far as he goes, Menand is on the mark. But, as he says, the novel is too rich and complex for any single analysis. The tragic element of hubristic pride that, try as he might, the Swede cannot help but be guilty of, even ifhe does not himself realize it, is part of the corruption of the liberal culture Menand describes. Levov has it all-good looks, talent, beautiful wife and home, successful business, friends-everything that comprises the Good Life. And only part of it is inherited; the rest he earned. But why should he be so blessed, and others the world over-not so far away, either, in Newark, for instance-be so unblessed? At bottom lies this mystery. Roth is wise not to try to completely umavel it, deeply penetrating as American Pastoral is. Some mysteries, after all, we can only gaze and wonder at. As Seymour Levov does. As Zuckerman does. And, through them, Roth does, too. Jay L. Halio Department of English University of Delaware Reunion, by Sam Bluefarb. Berkeley, CA: Creative Arts Book Co., 1998. 221 pp. $14.50. Sam Bluefarb, in his novel Reunion, has rendered a specific era from the late 40s through the early 70s. His semi-autobiographical novel captures the feel ofWorld War II, the academic humanities scene in southern California, and a significant and heart- 140 SHOFAR Fall 1999 Vol. 18, No. I rending love affair-bittersweet, ecstatic at times, and painful. Bluefarb's first flashback , in "The Voyage and Out," begins in October 1948; his last chapter, in the section called "The Reunion," is dated September 1970. Protagonist Dan Hellman and Kathy from Bombay are two young, fairly assimilated Jews who meet and fall in love. Bluefarb starts his novel in journal form with midsummer 1970-the reunion of Kathy and Dan after a hiatus of 20 years. Then in a series of flashbacks-also in journal form-he reconstructs momentous events in the lives ofthe star-crossed lovers. Along the way are echoes not only ofRomeo and Juliet, but also of Henry James and Edith Wharton. Also along the way one gets a sense of the American Depression, the coping of Dan's middle-class Jewish parents, Dan's early interest in literature, his stint in the Merchant Marine, and his active service in the U.S. Army. We also get snippets of the terrible displacement ofJews during Hitler's Holocaust, and transported Kathy, now an orphan, as she puts aside her Bombay heritage and tries to make a life for herself in the new world. When the two meet, Kathy is a student at the University ofSouthern California and Dan is at UCLA: Westwood and the Downtown Campus; the Jewish boy from Los Angeles and the exotic Jewish girl from Bombay, India. It is not a story ofumequited love. It is more painful than that. Kathy and Dan...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 139-141
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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