A multilayered masterpiece of fevered imagination and eroticism, Liebestod soars as the consummate work by one of America's greatest comic geniuses.As hilarious as it is heartbreaking, Liebestod returns us to Leslie Epstein’s most compelling literary character, that European émigré and meagerly successful musician, Leib Goldkorn, whose final years as a randy centenarian in New York City end in one of the most memorable swan songs in recent fiction. Invited back to his hometown in Moravia, Leib discovers that his father is not a hops magnate but actually one of the twentieth century’s greatest composers, Gustav Mahler. Returning to New York with a bevy of rabbinical cousins, Leib, now besotted by a world-famed diva, is determined to bring to the Metropolitan Opera Rubezahl, the only opera his real father ever wrote. Yet the much-heralded premiere turns into a fiasco of unimaginable proportions, all breathtakingly relayed by a stunned newspaper correspondent who survives to report on this monumental disaster. With Liebestod, Epstein once again “illuminates the mystery of our common humanity and mortality” (New York Times).
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Leslie Epstein has written eight books of fiction including King of the Jews, San Remo Drive, and Pandemonium and won an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Distinguished Achievement in Literature for his creation of Leib Goldkorn. The director of the Creative Writing Program at Boston University, he lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.From Booklist:
The wily and seductive Epstein (The Eighth Wonder of the World, 2006) continues his impish mixing of fact and fantasy as he picks up the story of musician, rascal, and Holocaust survivor Leib Goldkorn. Last seen in Ice Fire Water (1999), Leib is now 103 and as lusty as ever. Feeling suicidal under a restraining order for pestering book critic Michiko Kakutani and the threat of eviction, he is saved by an invitation to return to his Czech hometown as the last living “home-born” Jew. In Jihlava, he acts like a buffoon and is treated like a king until it becomes clear that he is actually a hostage. Amid the chaos, he discovers his secret connection to Gustav Mahler and is sent back to New York to stage Mahler’s allegedly long-lost opera. As his hero capers about like an escapee from a Chagall painting, stumbling from crisis to crisis in this deliriously ribald, shrewdly orchestrated, and covertly hard-punching comic farce, Epstein blasts hypocrisy and extremism, embraces life’s glory and absurdity, and mourns humanity’s unending legacy of sorrows. --Donna Seaman
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