Book by Skloot, Floyd
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A third novel from the author of, most recently, Pilgrim's Harbor (1992) traces the travails of a dysfunctional Jewish family from the 1930s through the mid-70s. Myron Adler and Faye Raskin are a terribly mismatched couple. He's the crude, vulgar owner of a live poultry market, suffering the aftereffects of his parents' refusal to let him marry a Catholic. She's a would-be artist on the rebound from a series of relationships with men she considered worthy of her pretensions. Such a union could only have disastrous results--and it does. Unwilling to take out his frustrations on his wife, Myron belts his sons, Richard and Daniel, regularly. Equally frustrated by her status in life, Faye does likewise. Richard grows up to be a self-absorbed compulsive overeater who feels cheated by the world. Daniel, by contrast, is perfection itself, a terrific athlete and excellent student who becomes a successful architect and loving father. Skloot recounts this tale in an apparent profusion of voices, a dense thicket of points of view made problematical by his inability to differentiate among them. Everything comes out in tedious faux Brooklyn Jewish dialect seemingly out of sitcom-land. And his people are astonishingly crude stereotypes that only a Roth or Bellow could breathe life into. While Skloot makes some effort to mitigate the parents' behavior, the book breaks down into a highly schematic (and unconvincing) set of heroes and villains. A final transformation of Faye from ogress to lovable, wacky older temptress is particularly embarrassing. Filled with sloppy writing and a transparently manipulated cast--and further burdened by cartoonish violence that seems to exist only to give a cheap jolt of energy to an otherwise lifeless story. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.Review:
The novel's epigraph proclaims, "There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in." That is a moment of hope; but it implies there are many other moments in which such liberation seems unimaginable, and Skloot examines these fully, tracing the Adler family history (mostly in Brooklyn), through various eruptions of abuse, from 1936 to 1974. The most pronounced physical consequence of that abuse is the blinding of Myron and Faye's son in one one; but it also creates damaging emotional consequences for Richard and his brother, Danny, well into their adult lives. Much of that history is focused on Danny's development, including his fears and usually thwarted attempts at getting parental approval. In the face of this, the book's modulations of tone are reassuring, effectively salvaging the humor of this world; they are one of Skloot's open doors, like the one Danny's wife helps him imagine whereby he might have a future with his estranged brother Richard. But Skloot's plotting still retains some ambivalence, for Richard, resentment and estrangement show no sign of abating. -- Jim O'Laughlin, Booklist, September, 1997
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Book Description Story Line Press, 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Uncorrected proof.. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX1885266480