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The Bacon Fancier: Four Tales by Alan Isler

The Bacon Fancier: Four Tales

by Alan Isler

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0670874078, Hardcover)

Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, and Francis Bacon all figure prominently in the four novellas that are Alan Isler's The Bacon Fancier. In the title story, an 18th-century Jewish violinmaker fancies both the philosopher and the breakfast meat of that name, his taste for the unkosher spilling over into his private affairs as well. Jews are at the center of all four of Isler's tales; in the first, the author retells Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. Here Shylock is neither the venal, bloodthirsty Jew of Shakespeare's play, nor some 20th-century revisionist martyr; rather, he is a crusty, belligerent old man who goes looking for reasons to wrangle with the gentiles and considers his famous court case against the Christian merchant a highpoint for the ghetto. In "The Crossing," a wealthy young Jew meets Oscar Wilde on an ocean liner and finds both are shunned for different reasons. The final tale, "The Affair," takes readers to Broadway, where a young actor finds his research for a book on the infamous Dreyfus affair turned into a lurid musical.

These four intelligent stories filled with sex, theft, betrayal, and memory are concerned with a minority's struggle to retain identity in the face of the majority's disapproval. Filled with multifaceted characters and complex themes, Alan Isler's The Bacon Fancier serves up its provocative fare well-done.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:42 -0400)

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Four tales on the Jewish experience in a hostile Christian world. The Monster, is on the misfortunes of a Jewish money lender in 16th century Venice, while the title story is on the difficulties of a mixed "marriage" in 18th century England.

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