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Meghan O'RourkeWhat is most impressive about this book is Bezmozgis' sense of story; at his best, he has an authority one usually finds only in more seasoned writers. Each story circles around a transaction that is a vehicle for broad irony (the traditional kind). In ''An Animal to the Memory,'' a young Mark is packed off to Hebrew school, where his mother sunnily hopes he will learn ''what it was to be a Jew'' -- the kind of thing that's impossible back in his hometown in Latvia. Mark, who presciently senses that an attenuated national and ethnic identity may be what serves him best, does in some sense learn ''what it was to be a Jew'' when his teacher humiliates and terrifies him on Holocaust Remembrance Day by forcing him to shout ''I'm a Jew'' until, his will broken, he weeps. In Bezmozgis' vision, to be a Jewish immigrant is to be at the mercy of the totalizing preconceptions not only of anti-Semites but of those who live in the shadow of the authenticity of their Old World ancestors.
— The New York Times