The Revisionist

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9780609602089: The Revisionist

In a novel that is part love story, part black comedy, and part searing family tragedy, Dr. David Hershleder, a brilliant but tortured Jewish neurologist on the cusp of turning forty, is thrown out of the house by his shiksa wife. He still loves her and his children, but an essential something, the piece of him that should know how to share his heart, is dead. In order to avoid the crushing weight of his loss, he embarks on a research project involving a Holocaust denier. The son of a refugee--a mother whose psychic wounds cast a paralyzing spell over her child's life--Hershleder has a growing fascination with Holocaust denial that makes perverse sense. He becomes more and more obsessed and, with the help of two oddball buddies from college, he finds and confronts a revisionist in Paris, and in the process confronts himself, exploding the lies he has constructed his own life around--his own revisionist history.
        
Helen Schulman deftly explores both the frightening world of Holocaust denial as well as the more intimate denial that we often use to survive our own lives. With humor and incisive intelligence, The Revisionist examines the dangerous absurdities embraced by the Holocaust's would-be refuters, as well as the havoc the Holocaust still wreaks on the children of Holocaust survivors, a grief that is learned, not earned; a grief that is inherited.

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Review:

Near the end of Helen Schulman's The Revisionist, David Hershleder's estranged wife, Itty, asks "Where have you been? Where have you been all of your life?" This is the question that Hershleder has never even known to ask until, at the age of 39, his life begins to crumble. A neurologist who is terrified of his own patients, a man who prefers research to real people, he has spent a lifetime cutting himself off, even from the ones he loves the most. When Itty, who would "rather be lonely alone ... than lonely with [him] again," finally throws him out, he turns to a private research project of his own in an attempt to deaden the pain. He becomes fascinated by a French Holocaust-denier, Jacques LeClerc, who, in the course of attempting to prove scientifically that the Nazi exterminations never happened, comes to the completely opposite conclusion. What happened, Hershleder wonders, "Why did he believe these lies in the first place, and how did he find the courage to face the truth?" Eventually his curiosity becomes so great that he goes to Paris to seek LeClerc out and ask him face to face.

Identity, denial, and the courage to face the truth are themes that Schulman works skillfully throughout all the relationships and story lines in The Revisionist. David Hershleder's mother was herself a survivor of the Holocaust, a fact that shaped her son's sense of self and relationships with others in ways not even he is aware of. As the story of Hershleder's pursuit of LeClerc unfolds, Schulman moves back and forth in time to reveal key events in his relationships with his mother, his wife, his best friend, David Kahn, and his college sweetheart Jodie, with whom he reconnects in the aftermath of his trip to France. What David actually learns from LeClerc is both mundane and surprising. What the hunt reveals about his own career as a denier and revisionist, however, is the key to Helen Schulman's deftly crafted and ultimately satisfying exploration of how the Holocaust continues to haunt even the present generation and what it means to be a survivor. --Alix Wilber

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Praise for The Revisionist

"The Revisionist is . . . an important piece of American fiction. Schulman has a terrific ear for contemporary speech rhythms, one that calls to mind the best of Grace Paley, Lorrie Moore, or Francine Prose. . . . The Revisionist is funny, terribly sad, and truly insightful with respect to the psychology of our contemporaries."
--Rick Moody

"Helen Schulman is that rare, good thing--a wonderful writer, fine and careful. . . . The Revisionist is a significant work and will bring Helen to a larger audience."
--A. M. Homes

"In The Revisionist, Helen Schulman manages the tricky fusion of personal history with History; the novel is gripping, beautifully written, and--extraordinarily, given its subject matter--powerfully funny."
--Jennifer Egan

"Quirky, intelligent, funny, and beautifully written, The Revisionist raises questions of profound consequence. . . . The answers are sometimes disturbing, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, but always human."
--Rebecca Stowe

Praise for Not a Free Show
"Helen Schulman's stories are exuberant. No one has told Schulman that a story can't be about everything."        
--Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Helen Schulman's light touch serves her well as she sets out to uncover what's really at the heart of hipsters' cool talk...the narrative voice is so persuasive that we are swept out to sea before we know it."
--Ann Beattie

Praise for Out of Time
"A tour de force by a young writer with astonishing gifts. It is full of passion, heartbreak, human mystery--fully alive on every page."
--Joyce Johnson

"Excellent. Helen Schulman writes with insight, affection, perfect pitch. I haven't read a novel that so fully and fascinatingly explores the ramifications of a fatality since James Agee's A Death in the Family."
--Ron Hansen

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Schulman, Helen
Published by Crown (1998)
ISBN 10: 060960208X ISBN 13: 9780609602089
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Book Description Crown, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 060960208X Dust jacket condition: New. In a novel that is part love story, part black comedy, and part searing family tragedy, Dr. David Hershleder, a brilliant but tortured Jewish neurologist on the cusp of turning forty, is thrown out of the house by his shiksa wife. He still loves her and his children, but an essential something, the piece of him that should know how to share his heart, is dead. In order to avoid the crushing weight of his loss, he embarks on a research project involving a Holocaust denier. The son of a refugee--a mother whose psychic wounds cast a paralyzing spell over her child's life--Hershleder has a growing fascination with Holocaust denial that makes perverse sense. He becomes more and more obsessed and, with the help of two oddball buddies from college, he finds and confronts a revisionist in Paris, and in the process confronts himself, exploding the lies he has constructed his own life around--his own revisionist history. Helen Schulman deftly explores both the frightening world of Holocaust denial as well as the more intimate denial that we often use to survive our own lives. 246 pages. Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Historiography--Fiction, Holocaust denial--Fiction. Bookseller Inventory # 059979

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