Decline Of Our Neighborhood (Rutgers Press Fiction)

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9780813520162: Decline Of Our Neighborhood (Rutgers Press Fiction)

Wexelblatt ( Life in the Temperate Zone and Other Stories ) constructs rich stories that make heavy subjects dance weightlessly before the reader's eyes. In one tale, a writer who believes that under repressive regimes "art becomes . . . political against its will" gets a chance to live out the plot of a story he sketched when he suddenly becomes president of the republic. The nature of historical truth is considered when a professor replies to a graduate student who is trying to "cope" with history: he interprets the story of "The Savior, Ishl Teitelbaum," a Jew in a concentration camp who listens to a rabbi and a political ideologue debate the meaning of the Holocaust-- and is then gassed. A 92-year-old nursing home resident reflects on his days as a member of an artists' collaborative that challenged accepted notions of individuality and creativity. Even tales that at first seem conventional become luminescent and unsettling, as in the story of a writer who recalls a Saturday afternoon of games with friends when he was 10; the narrative is interrupted by a dialogue between the author and an inquisitor that explores memory, truth and the knowledge of death.

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From Booklist:

A writer of great wit and superb imagination, Wexelblatt's (Life in the Temperate Zone [1990]) worlds are welcoming and all-encompassing. In "The Alpha Company Artists' Collaborative," a bored desk sergeant jokingly assigns seven art students to the same company during World War I. They quickly become inseparable and, after surviving the war intact, they find out just how inseparable they really are. They form a studio together and turn painting into an assembly line, all seven taking the credit for each masterpiece they produce. Eventually, though, they are forced to face what the army had created: a glorious lack of individuality. In "Benton's Top Banana," a much-fancied businessman and widower from Benton, Indiana, falls in love with a Jewish comedienne in Las Vegas and brings her back to meet the folks at the country club. With a polish similar to that of T. Coraghessan Boyle, Wexelblatt also plays with biblical allegory, delves deeply into the lives of artists, and paints the quick, sad portrait of a failing old man and his dog that is the title story. Extraordinarily inventive and magnetic work. David Cline

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Wexelblatt, Robert
Published by Rutgers University Press 1/1/1993 (1993)
ISBN 10: 0813520169 ISBN 13: 9780813520162
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Robert Wexelblatt
Published by Rutgers University Press (1993)
ISBN 10: 0813520169 ISBN 13: 9780813520162
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