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How This Night Is Different: Stories (2006)
by Elisa Albert
References to this work on external resources.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0743291271, Hardcover)Elisa Albert's How This Night Is Different is a hilariously irreverent collection of short stories that will leave readers longing for more from this talented newcomer. While some might find the self-deprecation off-putting at times (one of the stories features a thirtysomething woman who brings her non-Jewish boyfriend home for Passover and is rewarded with a raging yeast infection), Albert is perceptive enough to see beyond the stereotype of the self- hating Jew and shed real light on the familial and personal conflicts that affect most young adults, regardless of religion.
While each of the ten stories is impressive, a few are notable standouts. "The Living" tells the story of Shayna Marlowitz, a high school student who travels to Poland to visit the concentration camps as part of the Northeastern "We Are The Living!" delegation. While most of the other kids spend the time hooking up and trading velour jumpsuits, Shayna is consumed with producing a journal to rival that of her brother Max, who came back from the same trip years earlier with the "implication that said life had begun in Poland, that he knew secret things, the knowledge of which imbued him with special powers, a special place in the world." In "Everything But," Erin accompanies her narcissistic husband Alex to his niece's Bat Mitzvah, and spends half the party in the bathroom, smoking a joint with the "Cool Kids." The collection culminates in an extraordinary fan/love letter by the author herself to Philip Roth, in which she decides the only way to "produce something literary and lasting" is to bear his child.
How This Night Is Different is hardly ever politically correct, and might even be offensive to some, but that doesn't change the fact that Albert is an astute and intuitive social commentator, not to mention a riot to read. Those who are willing to throw piety to the wind will be rewarded with an exhilarating ride. --Gisele Toueg
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:10 -0400)
"Elisa Albert's debut story collection marks the arrival of an extraordinary new voice in fiction. In How This Night Is Different, Albert illuminates the struggles of young, disaffected Jews to find spiritual fulfillment. She confronts themes - self-deprecation, stressful family relationships, sex, mortality - that have been hallmarks of her literary predecessors. But Albert brings a decidedly fresh, iconoclastic, twenty-first-century attitude to the table." "Holidays, gatherings, and rites of passage provide the backdrop for these ten stories. The characters who populate How This Night Is Different are ambivalent, jaded, and in serious want of connection. As they go through the motions of familial duty and religious observance, they find themselves continually longing for more. Albert details the quest for acceptance, a happier view of the past, and above all the possibility of a future." "From the hormonally charged concentration camp teen tour in "The Living" to the sexually frustrated young mother who regresses to bat mitzvah-aged antics in "Everything But," and culminating with the finale of "Etta or Bessie or Dora or Rose," How This Night Is Different is sure to resonate with anyone who's ever felt conflicted about his or her faith, culture, or place in the world."--BOOK JACKET.
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