Isaac B. Singer: A Life
Northwestern University Press, 26 Μαΐ 2008 - 192 σελίδες
Isaac Bashevis Singer (1904–91) is generally recognized as the most popular Yiddish writer of the twentieth century. His widely translated body of work, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1978, is beloved around the world. But although Singer was a very public and outgoing figure, much about his personal life remains unknown. In this vivid biography, Florence Noiville offers a glimpse into the world of this much-loved but persistently elusive writer.
Singer was greatly influenced by his early years in Poland, with his rabbi father and rationalist, secular mother. His interest in themes of faith and dilemma stem directly from this set of conflicts; he bounced back and forth between revering and fighting orthodoxy. This was not the only paradox in his life, however: this man, who wrote many successful children’s books, had abandoned his first wife and only son in Poland as the Nazis began to sweep across Europe. His novels and stories are recognized for their mystical, folkloric tone and his public image was that of a grandfather or uncle; but he was wracked with self-doubt, a womanizer, and, as Noiville writes, a “modern virtuoso of anguish, inhibition, and fiasco.”
Noiville speaks to these and other paradoxes surrounding her subject, drawing on letters, personal stories, Singer’s own autobiographies, and interviews with friends, family, and publishing contemporaries. She travels as he did, from Poland to New York to Florida, tracing his journey from penniless immigrant to Nobel laureate. By pursuing Singer’s public and private past, she rebuilds his story and the story of the world he wrote from: a Yiddish world, a Poland removed from history by Nazi Germany.
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LibraryThing ReviewΚριτική χρηστών - LibraryThing
1977 was a pivotal year for New York City. Mayor Beame was seeking reelection in spite of record deficits, massive layoffs, and sky-rocketing crime rates. Also in the race were Mario Cuomo, who would later become governor, the future mayor Ed Koch, and firebrand feminist liberal Bella Abzug. 1977 was the Summer of Sam, David Berkowitz, a serial killer who terrorized the city for months. It was the year of the black-out, over 24 hours of largely uncontrolled looting that resulted in over 3,000 arrests and millions of dollars of property damaged that left a permanent mark on large sections of New York City. It was also the year Reggie Jackson came to play baseball for the New York Yankees in one of the first free-agent deals much to the consternation of team manager Billy Martin. If you don't remember any of that, you may be wondering if there's anything in The Bronx is Burning for you. I was only 13 in 1977, too wrapped up in 8th grade to notice much of what was going on. From the opposite coast where I lived, New York City was a place to be avoided, too dangerous to ever consider visiting, an object lesson in what could go wrong. New York City was a punchline. Maybe having no solid preconceptions about New York in '77 is one reason why I liked The Bronx is Burning as much as I did; there's no reason for me to take exception to anything Mr. Mahler says one way or another. Mr. Mahler says in his introduction that he set out to write a book about baseball, about the 1977 Yankees and Billy Martin's struggle with Reggie Jackson, maybe Reggie Jackson's struggle with Billy Martin. However, it soon became apparent to Mr. Mahler that he could not tell the story of the '77 Yankees without telling the larger story of New York City and those who lived there. The result is a fascinating look at a particular place at a particular time. The Bronx is Burning remains at heart a book about baseball, but it's a hybrid sort of book--a baseball, politics, true-crime piece of non-fiction that never ceases to entertain as it informs. However, at its core, The Bronx is Burning is too conflicted to be a complete success. While Mr. Mahler tries to make his book an all encompassing portrait of New York City, one gets the sense that he really wants to write about baseball. The mayoral race is fascinating, judging from what is in The Bronx is Burning the 1977 race may have been one of the most interesting races in American politics, but it plays second fiddle to the on-going conflict between Reggie Jackson and Billy Martin. Between the two of them and team owner George Steinbrenner there is enough drama to fill the entire book which makes the inclusion of the Son of Sam investigation and Rupert Murdoch's takeover of the New York Post along with much of the story of the city's overall decline during the 1970's seem a bit of a footnote. In the end, I felt Mr. Mahler should have written two books, one about baseball and one about all the rest, so if I were still giving out stars, The Bronx is Burning would get four out of five.
LibraryThing ReviewΚριτική χρηστών - LibraryThing
Reading this after having watched the ESPN series. The book is much better. I grew up in New Jersey, so I know most of the characters featured here, but have dim memories of the events in the book (dating myself, but not that much :-) It's interesting to see how someone like Ed Koch, who was always larger than life to my childhood eyes, started out.
1 A Stronghold of Jewish Puritanism
2 The Gold Mine of Krochmalna Street
3 A Private War Against the Almighty
4 The Servant of Two Idols
5 A Bare Soul
6 The Language of No One
7 The Conquest of America
8 Singer Versus Singer