The Complete Tales of Ketzia Gold

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Overview

The Complete Tales of Ketzia Gold is a lavishly poetic novel that draws upon the motifs of traditional German, Russian and Yiddish folklore and fairy stories to recount the visionary obsessions of a passionate young woman. The narrative moves freely through time and space, uniting Ketzia Gold's early childhood with her sexual awakenings, creating a dreamscape of haunting vividness. Marked by a logical illogic and disarmingly sane madness, this haunting and innovative fable creates an emotional landscape that's as...

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The Complete Tales of Ketzia Gold

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Overview

The Complete Tales of Ketzia Gold is a lavishly poetic novel that draws upon the motifs of traditional German, Russian and Yiddish folklore and fairy stories to recount the visionary obsessions of a passionate young woman. The narrative moves freely through time and space, uniting Ketzia Gold's early childhood with her sexual awakenings, creating a dreamscape of haunting vividness. Marked by a logical illogic and disarmingly sane madness, this haunting and innovative fable creates an emotional landscape that's as impossible to escape as it is for young Ketzia to inhabit. Kate Bernheimer interweaves hypnotic imagery and everyday life, moving back and forth through time, piecing together the fragments of memory and imagination with an obsessive lyricism that recalls the poetic fictions of Carol Maso. Bernheimer's story is a rich tapestry, patterned with childhood longings and the luxuriant complexity of womanhood.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The Complete Tales of Ketzia Gold [is] a truly original approach to the Bildungsroman, in which Kate Bernheimer has constructed a coherent and compelling narrative by cobbling together the plot lines of a wide variety of fairy tales, and my admiration for her talent as a writer, and the dazzling use to which she puts it, is of the highest order."
—Kathryn Davis

"Kate Bernheimer's The Complete Tales of Ketzia Gold is a seductive work of intelligence and charm." —Carole Maso

"Original and beautifully written. . . . Kate Bernheimer is an exceptional writer of fiction." —Fanny Howe

Fanny Howe
Original and beautifully written...Kate Bernheimer is an exceptional writer of fiction.
Lydia Millet
The Complete Tales of Ketzia Gold is an exceptional...book, beautifully enigmatic, speaking a language that mysteriously evokes the unspoken.
Kathryn Davis
...Bernheimer has constructed a...compelling narrative by cobbling together the plot lines of a wide variety of fairy tales...
Publishers Weekly
Flitting into a state resembling madness, the protagonist of this unconventional debut snips the story of her life into a strip of patchwork pieces, alternating vignettes with retellings of German, Russian and Yiddish folk tales. Ketzia Gold is the middle of three sisters, the most difficult and prone to flights of fancy ("for a short but rather confusing time when I was younger, my sisters and I turned into flowers"). She sleeps in the dog's bed and hides out at the library, but other people tell her she is clever and pretty, and Adam Brown, the smartest boy in her class at school, wants to marry her. When they grow up, they do marry, and for a while they are happy together, Adam working as a department store pianist and Ketzia as a transcriptionist for the Triple D detective firm. But their happiness is not fated to last: first, Adam's twin sister, Abby, moves in, and Adam seems unnaturally fixated on her. Ketzia leaves abruptly, only returning when Abby finally goes away. Then, in a Bluebeard-like twist, Adam gives Ketzia a set of keys and tells her never to look in a certain hall closet. Of course, Ketzia is unable to resist and finds only a stash of innocent photographs. After a period of stumbling malaise, Ketzia leaves Adam again to wander alone in an unnamed hot Southern state. Narrated in a deadpan, childlike voice, Ketzia's story is a fragmented contemporary fairy tale, shaped only by the fluctuations of its protagonist's coy helplessness. It relies on the inventiveness of its language to charm, and while Bernheimer does manage a balanced mix of the absurd and the matter-of-fact, too many mangled phrases ("Ketzia launched two green eyes about the room") disrupt the effect.(Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781573660969
  • Publisher: University of Alabama Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2002
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 194
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Kate Bernheimer attended Wesleyan University and received her M.F.A. from the University of Arizona. She has taught in the Harvard Summer Writing Program and has been the George Bennett Fellow in Creative Writing at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. The editor of the book Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Women Writers Explore Their Favorite Fairy Tales (Doubleday), she teaches at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon. The Complete Tales of Ketzia Gold is Bernheimer's first novel.

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Read an Excerpt


Chapter One


The Saltmarsh Tale of Lies


I want to tell you something, so listen. I saw two bathers flying. They flew with their breasts turned heavenward and their backs faced hellward. The first wore a striped bikini, the second a plain pair of trunks. Once I saw a bird in a shake at the boardwalk's fancy ice-cream stand, and then an anchor and some dune grass swam across the bay just as gracefully as you please. The anchor was surprising but dune grass is more lovely. Four girls in eyeglasses tried to catch a rabbit that lived in the mansion lawn. The first girl was sad, the second girl was afraid, the third girl was insecure and the fourth girl was just plain mean. Do you want to know what happened? The first saw the animal and tearfully told the second, who ran away to tell the third, who tried in vain to catch the rabbit. Shut up if you don't believe me. This is all in the country by the sea where a lobster chased me to a field of windflowers enclosed by a wall. Inside I saw a cow, who had gotten there by leaping. There are greenflies and blackflies and dragonflies there. So open the window and let the lies out, I say.


Excerpted from the Complete Tales of Ketzia Gold by Kate Bernheimer. Copyright © 2001 by Kate Bernheimer. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


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Table of Contents

1. The Saltmarsh Tale of Lies
2. The Star Pennies
3. A Riddling Tale
4. Clever Ketzia
5. Ketzia Without Hands
6. The Rosebud
7. A Confused Ketzia Helps Grandmother
8. Smart Ass Lucy and Foolish Ketzia
9. Ketzia at the Top of the Flagpole
10. and many more...
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2002

    Golden!

    Masterfully woven, Kate Bernheimer's new book leaves you at the edge, yearning for more! I cannot do her writing justice with this review, but I will try.******* From start to finish, the feel of this story is more of three stories interwoven like an intricate braid, woven, perhaps, by the deft hands of the triple aspect: young Ketzia, who lives with her parents and sisters, as the Maiden; working Ketzia, who is the responsible Mother; and tired Ketzia, who doesn't know how time is passing her by, as an old-before-her-time Crone. Taking turns, they weave with the golden thread the stories that run through our blood since olden times like a river through many lands. Here, Bernheimer utilizes tales from German, Russian, and Yiddish folklore. This thread does not overpower the story of our narrator, but ties her life together, bringing all three points to a beginning, not an end.******* Bernheimer's words have been a comfort to me, keeping me from thinking too much about life's woes. It felt like Ketzia was sitting next to me, telling me her stories, a commuter friend. I look forward to future novels!******* Kerrie Colantonio, Author of TWISTING THE GLASS

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