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While The Messiah Tarries: Selected Poems
     

While The Messiah Tarries: Selected Poems

by Melvin Jules Bukiet
 

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Combining history, fable, theology, and myth, these nine stories, by turns magical and mundane, comic and tragic, are remarkable for the breadth of their concerns and the depth of their vision.

Overview

Combining history, fable, theology, and myth, these nine stories, by turns magical and mundane, comic and tragic, are remarkable for the breadth of their concerns and the depth of their vision.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The mundane and the mystical collide in these remarkable, offbeat stories that use a Jewish-American milieu to pose universal moral and metaphysical puzzles. In ``Gematria,'' a Manhattan jewelry dealer encounters a mysterious woman who wants a square emerald; a series of murders follows, accompanied by cryptic messages that reveal the murderer's familiarity with gematria, the kabbalistic discipline of calculating the numerical value of words in order to reveal ``the secret truths evident beneath the surface of the language.'' In ``The Big Metzia,'' a New York garment manufacturer copes with a ghost as he teams up in business with two shady Russian migr brothers who lead him through the entrepreneurial minefields of glasnost-era Moscow. Bukiet (Sandman's Dust) creates memorable, maverick characters who live on the edge, treading a dangerous path between the sacred and the profane: a Columbia archeologist on a dig in the Near East believes he has unearthed the birthplace of the eternal monotheistic God (``Old Words for New''); a New Jersey real-estate lawyer tracks down a crackpot German refugee peddling a rare Nazi home movie (``Himmler's Chickens''); a dishonest Kosher butcher is a closet vegetarian (``The Golden Calf and the Red Heifer''); an upstate New York rabbi tries to outwit the devil (``The Devil and the Dutchman''). Bukiet is a gifted, inventive writer whose fine sense of contrast is evident not only in his eerie juxtapositions but also in moments of perfect comic timing. (June)
Library Journal
Nine short stories make up this unusual collection of Jewish tales by a master storyteller. The title comes from Maimonides' Thirteen Principles: "I believe...in the coming of the Messiah. Even though he may tarry, I await him." European Jews recited this verse as they entered the Nazi gas chambers. Bukiet (Stories of an Imaginary Childhood, Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1992) explores in great depth the foibles and predicaments of Jews in America while the Messiah tarries. In "Landsmanshaft," a group of older men at a New York City cemetery are burying one of their own from their village of Knihynicze, Poland. "No matter, they were more than merely friends or third cousins; they were landsmen." All their friendship and enmity for the newly deceased theater critic, Alexander, is reviewed along with his enemy Pincus's promise to dance on his grave. In "The Big Metzia," con men from post-perestroika Moscow wreak havoc at once comic and tragic on the Lapidus family business, Weslacks, a wholesale men's pants firm. Reminiscent of I.B. Singer in his probing of the human psyche, Bukiet adds freshness and depth to Jewish storytelling.-Molly Abramowitz, Silver Spring, Md.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780151000838
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
06/15/1995
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)

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