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Liebestod: Opera Buffa with Leib Goldkorn
     

Liebestod: Opera Buffa with Leib Goldkorn

4.0 1
by Leslie Epstein
 

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A multilayered masterpiece of fevered imagination and eroticism, Liebestod soars as the consummate work by one of America's greatest comic geniuses.
As hilarious as it is heartbreaking, Liebestod returns us to Leslie Epstein’s most compelling literary character, that European émigré and meagerly successful musician, Leib Goldkorn, whose final

Overview

A multilayered masterpiece of fevered imagination and eroticism, Liebestod soars as the consummate work by one of America's greatest comic geniuses.
As hilarious as it is heartbreaking, Liebestod returns us to Leslie Epstein’s most compelling literary character, that European émigré and meagerly successful musician, Leib Goldkorn, whose final years as a randy centenarian in New York City end in one of the most memorable swan songs in recent fiction. Invited back to his hometown in Moravia, Leib discovers that his father is not a hops magnate but actually one of the twentieth century’s greatest composers, Gustav Mahler. Returning to New York with a bevy of rabbinical cousins, Leib, now besotted by a world-famed diva, is determined to bring to the Metropolitan Opera Rubezahl, the only opera his real father ever wrote. Yet the much-heralded premiere turns into a fiasco of unimaginable proportions, all breathtakingly relayed by a stunned newspaper correspondent who survives to report on this monumental disaster. With Liebestod, Epstein once again “illuminates the mystery of our common humanity and mortality” (New York Times).

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Lieb Goldkorn, as followers of his adventures—collected in previous volumes by his amanuensis Epstein—know, is a flautist, graduate of the Akademie für Musik, Philosophie, und darstellende Kunst, Holocaust survivor, and former lover of Carmen Miranda (among others). More recently the 105-year-old’s devotion to New York Times reviewer Michiko Kakutani has led to a restraining order, and at the outset of this “memorial,” as the English-mangling Lieb calls it, he’s on the verge of suicide. Then comes a letter from the “Holocaust Festivities Committee” of Iglau (or Jihlava, its Czech name) wishing to honor their “last living Hebrew.” In the old country, Lieb receives the key to his childhood home, realizes he’s Gustav Mahler’s son, lives through a pogrom, and that’s not the half of it. Throw in opera, Condoleezza Rice, the Satmar branch of Hasidism, the Golem, the Twelve Steps, a remarkably durable fascination with “mams” (breasts), and terrorists. Opera buffa is a genre of comic opera that usually features a patter song: a high-speed tongue twister performed by a singer with a distinctive voice. Clearly this is how Epstein sees this Lieb Goldkorn outing; readers who find Goldkorn’s amatory, operatic, and linguistic exploits amusing will agree. Those with less patience or a higher demand for internal logic will not. Agent: ZSH Literary. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Holocaust survivor Leib Goldkorn is about to celebrate his 104th birthday. He is also about to stick his head in his oven and turn on the gas. A series of events at this juncture take him back to his native Iglau, Moravia (present-day Czech Republic); provide him with a new paternity; give him a new career; fill his pockets; and furnish him with a family. He returns to New York with all of the above. However, all is not as it seems. His newfound family and work, a new love interest, and the crazy adventures that ensue are a bit over-the-top for a mere mortal. Epstein (King of the Jews) gives this bawdy centenarian a fittingly bizarre send-off. VERDICT As "theater of the absurd," this book is a gem. It will appeal to general readers and those who enjoy going beyond the bounds.—Joanna M. Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island, Providence

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393081312
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
02/13/2012
Series:
Leib Goldkorn Series
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Leslie Epstein has written eight books of fiction including King of the Jews, San Remo Drive, and Pandemonium and won an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Distinguished Achievement in Literature for his creation of Leib Goldkorn. The director of the Creative Writing Program at Boston University, he lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.

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Liebestod: Opera Buffa with Leib Goldkorn 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
PeteAS More than 1 year ago
To read this novel requires that one be conversant in Yiddish and German. I found it hard to follow.