Sunday, July 11, 2010

Fiction Review "Brooklyn Noir" part 1

All told a worthwhile collection of stories. Here are my two cents on the stories I've read so far:

Pete Hamill "The Book Signing." What I like about the story: the narrator's observation of the changes in Park Slope after an extended absence. The description of aspiring authors at the book signing and their standard questions. What I don't like: the main story itself is a little unsatisfying, though the narrative voice itself is excellent.

Pearl Abraham "Hasidic Noir". Like many Jewish authors writing for a larger and mostly non-Jewish audience, the narrator's voice is inauthentic as the Yiddishisms and Hebraisms which would color his speech are minimized, and the Hasidic syntactical patterns are abandoned for more standardized English sentence structures. It is a common characteristic of literature for a non-Jewish audience. Nathan Englander and Shalom Auslander also do this. I have done this myself in my story of a Hasidic Vampire. This is really not so much a criticism as a fact: if we were to write a story the way that many Hasids speak, a non-Jewish audience would not find it very readable--the work would need copious footnotes to explain the terminology. I found two things dissatisfying with the story: 1)the surprise ending (which I will not ruin for you) 2) the idea that the villain character could manipulate everyone so easily against the good Rabbi, even his family. It makes the community look like a group of mindless fools.

Sidney Offit's "No Time for Senior's". Great narrative voice. Great humor. A disappointing and unlikely groaner of a twist.

Tim McLoughlin "When all this was Bay Ridge." Great story. Poignant ending.

Adam Mansbach's "Crown Heist." Brilliant and wicked.

Arthur Nersesian's "Hunter/Trapper." Also excellent.

Neal Pollack's "Scavenger Hunt." Very nice. Great narrative voice. Interesting plot.

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