Marcus Weiss is a middle-aged Jewish writer living in New York City, working on a novel called The Reverse Turn of the Heart, as well as a literary reference book—the Dictionary of the Human Gesture in Western Literature. His girlfriend Gina and best friend Oscar have nicknamed him "The Prophet of Tenth Street," "because he can't bear the idea that others… are not exactly like him." Marcus is neurotic like a Woody Allen character without the buoyant humor, obsessing over his literary pursuits, religion, women, love, and death. He produces his notebooks to quote Hitler and Maimonides for visitors, while Gina talks about him like he isn't in the room—"He's gracious, too," she says, "wants nothing better than the well-being of his guests... He tries to memorize their every word, every muscle twitch." Marcus's musings will be familiar to any struggling author, as when he considers, "What happens to my characters when I take a break?" One day, Marcus discovers that an old man has entered his book, but can't recall how he got there, or who he is. In an intriguing conflation of the writer and the text, readers are left to parse out whether the old man is a projection of a future version of Marcus, or a contemporaneous Marcus attempting to reinsert himself into the story of his younger self. Poet and novelist Keller (Retelling) handles this poignant tale with the deftness of a writer who has struggled alongside her characters. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
“Tsipi Keller has taken us into a writer’s very being. It is hard work and all-consuming … This is a provocative story that stays with the reader.” — Jewish Book Council
Tsipi Keller was born in Prague, raised in Israel, and has been living in the United States since 1974. Her short fiction and her poetry translations have appeared in many journals and anthologies, and her novels include Jackpot and Retelling. Keller has also translated several poetry collections, including Dan Pagis’s Last Poems, Irit Katzir’s And I Wrote Poems, and her own edited collection, Poets on the Edge: An Anthology of Contemporary Hebrew Poetry, also published by SUNY Press. She lives in West Palm Beach, Florida.