Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mick Dementiuk's review of BEND IN THE ROAD

I am so pleased to share a review by Mykola Dementiuk, author of Times Queer, Vienna Dolorosa and other works, of BEND IN THE ROAD. Here's some of what Mick says:

While reading Jeanne Barrack’s Bend in the Road I couldn’t help but be reminded of that Yiddish story teller Isaac Bashevis Singer, whose Yiddish tales of the pre-Holocaust Europe earned him the Noble Prize. One story especially comes to mind, "Yentl the Yeshiva Boy," in which the girl Yentl, wanting to learn the teachings of the rabbis, disguises herself as a young man and befriends the other young men in pursuing this course of study. Though the latent homosexual traits are obvious to any reader, Singer shies away from exploring the relationship any further…

Not so Jeanne Barrack in her two-part novella, Bend in the Road. In Part One In the Lion’s Den, she explores a relationship between an older male, Aryeh, and Dani, a very young man.

In the other novella, Part Two, From Stage to Stage, Yuval and Tsvi are as different from each other as night and day or Christian and Jew. Yuval runs the music of the theater troupe while Tsvi is a lowly disfigured gardener in a home Yuval is visiting. Yuval convinces Tsvi to sing in the company, at least part time, as they prepare for a recital.

Each man feels he in unworthy of sexual pleasure or true physical love; in this they stand utterly alone, tormented by their sexuality, by their aloneness. No wonder there’s a feeling of lost about them, which will persist until they let another into their lives.

These two stories are exquisite, rewarding novellas...I would highly recommend these two novellas. You’ll definitely learn something from this book about a long-lived culture that now seems so short-lived before anti-Semitism reared its ugly head once again …but until then at least it was gloriously lived!

Jeanne Barrack has shown us what indeed was a fascinating way of life and that underneath all the poverty and hatred was a powerful resilience, a force of love pushing its way upwards not to the sky but directly straight to God…

Thank you, Mick. From one New Yorker to another...
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