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Missing
     

Missing

by Michelle Herman
 

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Alone in her Brooklyn apartment, where for decades she never had a moment to herself, Rivke Vasilevsky spends her days at the kitchen table, nursing a glass of hot water and lemon, listening for the telephone. And eighty-nine-year-old widow, Rivke feels she has nothing left to do but think about what has brought her to this juncture.

Overview

Alone in her Brooklyn apartment, where for decades she never had a moment to herself, Rivke Vasilevsky spends her days at the kitchen table, nursing a glass of hot water and lemon, listening for the telephone. And eighty-nine-year-old widow, Rivke feels she has nothing left to do but think about what has brought her to this juncture.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Short story writer Herman, who teaches creative writing at Ohio State, has taken a major chance with her first novel. It is set in the claustrophobic world inhabited by an elderly Jewish widow, Rivke Vasilevsky. She lives alone in a Brooklyn apartment, so frail she can barely hoist herself out of the bathtub, often dozing through the days, then insomniac at night. Her life is constructed from her memories, and from phone calls from her children, particularly her favorite granddaughter, Rachel. The book's title refers to a packet of beads from a beloved old dress, which unaccountably disappears, and the turmoil this causes the old lady. It is, then, a slight tale, no more than a novella in length; but it has a density that suggests a much bigger book. Herman's ear is perfect; she employs exemplary narrative skills to ensure that the monotony and gloom of Rivke's life do not also infect the reader, and the result is a small triumph: the creation of a character, and a way of life, in all their poignant human complexity. There must be hundreds of women like Rivke who would be consoled by this deeply understanding study of old age. (Apr.)
Library Journal
As an elderly Jewish widow named Rivke searches for some shiny black beads that are missing, she also discovers holes in her own history. The protagonist is never offstage; in fact, she is the only character we meet. New meanings emerge as Rivke's returning memories prompt internal discourse. The tight, controlled writing allows the reader to experience Rivke's sense of dismay and discovery without being overwhelmed by pathos. The work is a strong woman's view of personal history that never resorts to contemporary feminist philosophizing; the readers' empathy will carry them through the work smoothly. Easily recommended for all fiction collections.-- Joyce M. Latham, Southern Maryland Regional Lib., Charlotte Hall

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780814205198
Publisher:
Ohio State University Press
Publication date:
03/28/1991
Pages:
146
Product dimensions:
5.49(w) x 8.49(h) x 0.48(d)

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