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Miriam Levine's first novel is loosely based on a newspaper account of a New Jersey domestic tragedy. Her protagonist, European-born widower Ben Shein, is middle-aged, a successful furrier in Paterson, New Jersey, in the early 1940s when the novel opens. Lonely and ghost-haunted by his dead wife Tess, Ben pursues and marries the young and beautiful shopgirl Judith Karger against the advice of his brother Nat, who struggles to leave the family's fur business. Their marriage soon disintegrates, and Ben's ten-year-old daughter Susan, his only child, becomes an innocent victim of the bitter unhappiness between her father and stepmother. Levine's novel portrays the tragic side of the immigrant dream. The Sheins have all the trappings of success, yet they are caught up in an inexplicable fate foreshadowed by the ravings of the madman Joe Mavet and the taint of the family business - working with the skins of dead animals. Paterson is as much a character as any of the city's inhabitants and comes to stand for any urban American locale - where immigrants strive to assimilate as they play out the drams of their lives.
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Miriam Levine gives us an eloquent novel that is an elegy to a past generation whose desire for love and tenacious battle for survival prefigures the passions of a new generation.
Levine's protagonist is European-born widower Ben Shein, a brilliant furrier reestablishing the family business, in Paterson. The Sheins have come through the Great Depression and seem poised for success. But Ben's life takes a horrifying turn. Blind to her potential for murderous rage, he pursues and marries young, beautiful Judith Karger. Their marriage destroys Ben's gifted, only child, Susan.
Embittered, rendered mute by a mysterious illness, Ben becomes a patron of the camp for the arts founded by his brother Nat and Nat's wife, Renee?an escape from the fur business that has enriched and cursed the Sheins. In a strange turn of events, Judith finds a new life among exiled Cubans in Miami.
Suspenseful, driven by compassion, wisdom, and courage, this is a work from a vibrant, new voice in American fiction.
"Miriam Levine is a wonderful and wise writer. She has created a compelling story of everyday hopes, dreams, and tragedies in this psychologically complex novel."Helen FremontAbout the Author:
Born in Paterson, New Jersey, Miriam Levine is the author of Devotion: A Memoir, three poetry collections, and A Guide to Writers’ Home s in New England. A recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and grants from the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, she was a fellow at Yaddo and Hawthornden Castle. Her work has been published in such venues as the Paris Review, Kenyon Review, and Harvard Review. Levine chairs the English Department at Framingham State College near Boston and divides her time between Massachusetts and Miami Beach, Florida. Currently she’s at work on a new novel and a poetry collection.
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Book Description Southern Methodist University Press, 2002. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0870744674
Book Description Condition: New. New. Seller Inventory # M-0870744674