Modern Jewish Literature and Culture

John Smith, Will Wordsworth

Published by: Texas Tech University Press

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Modern Jewish Literature and Culture

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The American Sun & Wind Moving Picture Company

Jay Neugeboren

The American Sun & Wind Moving Picture Company is an enchanting tale set in the silent film era.  Beginning in 1915, in Fort Lee, New Jersey, where a Jewish family makes one and two reel silent films, the novel is composed of six chapters, each a discrete silent film in itself.

Joey, the too-beautiful-to-be-a-boy son of moviemaker, Simon, and his actress wife, Hannah, imagines stories that his uncle’s camera turns into scenes for their movies. Witness to and participant in the rapid technological advances in film, from the movies his family makes, to the advent of the talkies, Joey is cast in both male and female roles, onstage and off.  When the woman Joey loves murders her abusive husband and sends Joey from his New Jersey family disguised as the mother of her own children, he embarks on a cross-country journey of adventure and hardship, crossing paths with the likes of D. W. Griffith, Lillian Gish, Mary Pickford, and “Roxy” Rothafel.  Finally, reunited on the opposite coast with his uncle, and with the woman he has never stopped loving, Joey’s wild journey—and life!—arrive at a moment as unpredictable as it is magical.

In an outrageously original tale worthy of a studio whose moguls might have been Kafka, Garcia Marquez, and Isaac Bashevis Singer, reality and illusion merge and separate, leaving the audience spellbound even after the final curtain falls.

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A House Too Small

And Other Stories

Ezra Hirschmann, with foreword by Alan Berger

In this unique collection of short stories, the central link is the profound impact of the Holocaust on the lives of first and subsequent generation survivors. Each story has roots in World War II, but all end in the present. Extending into Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas, the stories demonstrate that the shards of Holocaust evil are scattered far and wide and that the passage of time may, or may not, bring closure. The characters are diverse, from the fragile and frail to the courageous in the face of brutality. Through the unfolding of events long after their traumatic occurrence, some protagonists are relieved of their debilities, while others are rendered desperate by them. For readers interested in post-Holocaust literature, the damaged human condition, and family sagas, this book is a must. Reaching far beyond events that concluded in 1945, A House Too Small carries the aftermath of the Shoah forward, deftly unfolding its powerful personal consequences through remembrance, forgiveness, retribution, tragedy, intrigue, devotion, and redemption.

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Mitzvah Man

John J. Clayton

Mourning the death of his wife after a senseless and tragic accident, Boston businessman Adam Friedman finds solace through living the mitzvot—instructions for goodness, justice, and compassion. In a frenzy of good deeds, he saves lives and helps the needy. Even his adolescent daughter, whose grief is as intense as his own, begins to wonder if there isn’t more than a shared joke to the superhero T-shirt she has designed for him. When a thwarted crime and a supplicant’s good fortune propel Friedman into the headlines, followers gather unbidden on his doorstep. Voices, dreams, and auras visit him. Miracles occur among family, friends, and strangers alike. But while some hail the Mitzvah Man as a modern-day prophet, others brand him a madman in danger of losing custody of his only child. Is he crazy? Is he holy? Through his experiences of love and loss, beauty and pain, language and custom, Friedman’s daily quest reveals the unexpected ways in which God may inhabit us all.

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