In A Cold Open Fieldby Sheila Solomon Klass, Leonard Chang
in 1950, Eva and Sol Greenfield receive a telegram from the Department of the Army informing then that their son, Ben, in missing in action in Korea. The effect of the telegram is devastating. Eva, an orthodox Jewish woman, goes to a fortune teller in Coney Island for comfort. "In A Cold Open Field" explores the developing relationship between the two women, as Eva
in 1950, Eva and Sol Greenfield receive a telegram from the Department of the Army informing then that their son, Ben, in missing in action in Korea. The effect of the telegram is devastating. Eva, an orthodox Jewish woman, goes to a fortune teller in Coney Island for comfort. "In A Cold Open Field" explores the developing relationship between the two women, as Eva desperately needs to deny the death of her child and the fortune teller takes advantage of Eva's need for her own gain. "In A Cold Open Field" was a finalist for the Drue Heinz Literature Prize. "Library Journal" said about this book: "Klass's evocation of Brooklyn in the Fifties in wonderfully effective..."
More novella than novel, not just in length but preoccupation, this perfectly calibrated story is as much a memorable portrait of grief as a touching example of the infinitely varied ways the human heart responds to loss. On May 13, 1951, Mother's Day, Momma Greenfield leaves husband Sol and their Williamsburg apartment and heads for Coney Island. She's a devout Orthodox Jew who's always thought Coney Island a wicked and ungodly place, but now she goes there in search of someone who can tell her the truth. Her only son Ben is missing in action in Korea, and while Sol is resigned to their son's possible death, Momma is not. The misspelled sign GYPSY PRINCESS ZOE: ASTRALAGY READINGS in an encouragingly clean window entices her in, and, inside, the exotically dressed Zoe seems to know exactly why Momma is there. Comforted by Zoe's sympathetic response and amazing clairvoyance, she readily agrees to help the woman bring Ben back. Zoe is a superb con artist, and her stratagems, while easing Momma's pain, are expensive. Over a period of weeks she insists that Momma bring her thousands of dollars, a chicken, and a suit of new clothes so that the necessary rituals can be observed, and Momma, her grief assuaged by her faith in Zoe, and certain that Ben is coming home, happily complies. Meanwhile, Sol is worried by Momma's increasingly bizarre behavior and reactionsshe refuses to mourn when they learn that Ben is indeed deadbut can do nothing. Only when Zoe is unmasked as a crook does Momma finally accept the truth that her son is gone and must be appropriately mourned.
Klass (A Perpetual Surprise, 1991, etc.) delivers a moving story, though not quite big enough to fill out a novel's more expansive lineaments.
- Black Heron Press
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.85(w) x 8.83(h) x 1.07(d)
Meet the Author
Sheila Solomon Klass has taught English since 1965 at Manhattan Community College of The City University of New York where she holds a full professorship. She has been a United States Information Service lecturer in Creative Writing at several women's colleges in Calcutta, India and has held lectureships at the University of Connecticut and at the Leonia Library, Leonia, New Jersey. She received a First Prize in Fiction Award from the Charles Goldman Judaica Library and a Citation at a Notable New Jersey Author from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. She has published four novels and a memoir as well as ten novels for young adults.
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