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How This Night Is Different: Stories by…
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How This Night Is Different: Stories (2006)

by Elisa Albert

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Elisa Albert is an observant and cuttingly witty writer who can see into the black hearts of young suburban Jewish women. She sees them at Passover, sharing a new non-Jewish boyfriend and a killingly itchy yeast infection. She finds them at Auschwitz, on a teen tour called We The Living. She finds them at an abortion clinic. She finds them in herself. ( )
  froxgirl | May 31, 2015 |
Be forewarned! This book contains irreverant responses to things typically Jewish. Don't read it if you are easily offended. What this book does extremely well, however, is take someone's pain and superimpose it on a Jewish situation, thereby making very poignant statements in the way each situation is played out. Superficially funny, but deeply sad, these stories are unique and thought-provoking reads.

When I first started this collection of stories, I didn't think I'd like them. As I read through them, though, they began to grow on me. I have to say that, by the time I finished this book, I had to admit I found the stories very entertaining. "Etta or Bessie or Dora or Rose" was the most powerful, but my two personal favorites were "When You Say You're A Jew" and "So Long" because they echoed my personal experiences. I will certainly recommend this book to others. ( )
  SqueakyChu | Jan 29, 2011 |
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Now maybe there's a God abovebut all I ever learned from loveis how to shoot at someone who outdrew you.---Leonard Cohen, Hallelujah
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For my mother and father, Elaine and Carl
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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.… (more)

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