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The Pale of Settlement: Stories (Flannery…
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The Pale of Settlement: Stories (Flannery O'Connor Award for Short… (edició 2007)

de Margot Singer

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342582,891 (4.17)1
In settings from Jerusalem to Manhattan, from the archaeological ruins of the Galilee to Kathmandu, ""The Pale of Settlement"" gives us characters who struggle to piece together the history and myths of their family's past.This collection of linked short stories takes its title from the name of the western border region of the Russian empire within which Jews were required to live during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Susan, the stories' main character, is a woman trapped in her own border region between youth and adulthood, familial roots in the Middle East and a typical American existence, the pull of Jewish tradition and the independence of a secular life.In ""Helicopter Days,"" Susan discovers that the Israeli cousin she grew up with has joined a mysterious cult. ""Lila's Story"" braids Susan's memories of her grandmother - a German Jew arriving in Palestine to escape the Holocaust - with the story of her own affair with a married man and an invented narrative of her grandmother's life. In ""Borderland,"" while trekking in Nepal, Susan meets an Israeli soldier who carries with him the terrible burden of his experience as a border guard in the Gaza Strip. And in the haunting title story, bedtime tales are set against acts of terrorism and memories of a love beyond reach. The stories of ""The Pale of Settlement"" explore the borderland between Israelis and American Jews, emigrants and expatriates, and vanished homelands and the dangerous world in which we live today.… (més)
Membre:polluxtrees
Títol:The Pale of Settlement: Stories (Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction) (Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction)
Autors:Margot Singer
Informació:University of Georgia Press (2007), Hardcover, 216 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
Valoració:
Etiquetes:Sisterhood Book Sale Fiction

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The Pale of Settlement de Margot Singer

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"Gobsmacked." It's a term I don't think I've ever used personally, but I see it a lot these days. And Margot Singer's stories in THE PALE OF SETTLEMENT affected me that way, leaving me open-mouthed, speechless, utterly astounded. Because these interconnected stories of a family are simply beautiful. Words fail me, because I'm afraid I'll screw things up just trying to describe what Singer has created here.

But what the hell, I've gotta say something, right? So here goes. For those of you who shy away from short stories, as so many of today's readers regretfully do, fear not. These stories all fit together, because they concern multiple generations of a single Jewish family, with the focus on Susan Stern, a writer-journalist, who has managed to break free of the restrictions of that "pale of settlement" that gives the book its name. And I had to look that up, I'll admit. It refers to a geographic area of Czarist Russia where Jews were permitted to live. An enormous "ghetto" created by Catherine the Great which included much of Poland and Lithuania, then part of the Russian Empire.

During the mid-twentieth century countless Jews managed to emigrate from the then-USSR and ended up in Israel. And that is the point of origin for Susan Stern's family, the port city of Haifa. There is much in these stories of continuing Arab-Israeli tensions, the brief wars, the bombings, the checkpoints, the compulsory military service for both men and women, which is routinely taken for granted, a 'rite of passage' to adulthood. Susan's mother, Leah, meets someone during her own service, and there are hints of an illicit affair, perhaps with one of 'enemy,' and she is hustled off to New York City by her concerned and controlling widowed father. So, despite the fact that this is a book about being Jewish, about "roots," and where "home" is, Susan's own patrimony remains shrouded in mystery.

The settings for the stories shift from Israel to New York to Berlin to Nepal and other places, but Haifa and New York City are constants, central to Susan's own story. For throughout her life she makes many trips back to Haifa, first as a child with her parents, and later as an adult and a writer. Other relatives' stories (spanning much of the twentieth century and into the next) crop up throughtout the linked narratives - grandparents, uncles, cousins, her parents' strained courtship and long tension-filled marriage. Susan's own story is told in scattered pieces, from her earliest childhood memories (her mother telling her bedtime stories of her own childhood and youth) all the way into her late forties, still fiercely independent and single, unable - or unwilling - to commit to a lasting relationship, often on the move - "feeling the way she always did when she traveled alone: invisible and weightless and free."

An uncle, Avraham, is an archaeologist who ponders the mysteries of antiquity at various 'digs.' His niece, Susan - and Margot Singer too - is doing the same thing with family: disinterring the tragedies and secrets of previous generations, holding potsherds of lives up to the light, examining, cataloguing and describing.

Singer's descriptions of these lives are meticulous and mesmerizing. It's been more than a week since I finished reading her stories and they still haunt me. How to describe a book like this? Back where I started. Speechless. Gobsmacked. ( )
  TimBazzett | Dec 18, 2013 |
Short stories whose protagonist is an American born of Israeli parents. She's open to a variety of people and ideas, but the stories move quickly between people and time, so I felt no connection to the characters. ( )
  suesbooks | Jun 15, 2009 |
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Wikipedia en anglès (1)

In settings from Jerusalem to Manhattan, from the archaeological ruins of the Galilee to Kathmandu, ""The Pale of Settlement"" gives us characters who struggle to piece together the history and myths of their family's past.This collection of linked short stories takes its title from the name of the western border region of the Russian empire within which Jews were required to live during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Susan, the stories' main character, is a woman trapped in her own border region between youth and adulthood, familial roots in the Middle East and a typical American existence, the pull of Jewish tradition and the independence of a secular life.In ""Helicopter Days,"" Susan discovers that the Israeli cousin she grew up with has joined a mysterious cult. ""Lila's Story"" braids Susan's memories of her grandmother - a German Jew arriving in Palestine to escape the Holocaust - with the story of her own affair with a married man and an invented narrative of her grandmother's life. In ""Borderland,"" while trekking in Nepal, Susan meets an Israeli soldier who carries with him the terrible burden of his experience as a border guard in the Gaza Strip. And in the haunting title story, bedtime tales are set against acts of terrorism and memories of a love beyond reach. The stories of ""The Pale of Settlement"" explore the borderland between Israelis and American Jews, emigrants and expatriates, and vanished homelands and the dangerous world in which we live today.

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