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Swimming Toward the Ocean: A Novel by Carole…

Swimming Toward the Ocean: A Novel

by Carole L. Glickfeld

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Let Edith Wharton have high society. In Carol Glickfeld’s first collection of short stories, she staked out her own particular milieu: the streets of Brooklyn, forever teeming with raucous, foolish, poignant life, where laborers deceived their wives, kids without shoes discovered sex, and families somehow stayed together. More than a decade later, Glickfeld’s first novel, “Swimming toward the Ocean,” reinforces her claim to this territory while demonstrating her continued affection for its denizens and all their foibles.

In the winter just after the Korean War, soldiers and sailors, teenagers and grandparents – all of them desperate for “amusement” – brave searing winds to crowd the boardwalk at Brighton Beach. Against this gritty, colorful backdrop, a young girl recounts the story (which begins before her birth) of working-class parents who stray and start over (though not with each other). Her voice brims with instinctive awareness and gentle bewilderment. The story focuses mainly on her mother, Chenia Arnow, whose deepest feelings the child conjectures as an almost constant interior monologue. An immigrant from Russia, Chenia remains as steeped in superstition as a character in any Isaac Bashevis Singer tale, seeing curses and portents in every shadow and constantly on the alert to defend her children against the Evil Eye. But Chenia needn’t invent problems in these mean streets. Despair and domestic violence, sexual obsession, even mental collapse and suicide attempts are chronicled by her daughter, but always with respect and kindness and – astonishingly – humor. Glickfeld also illuminates romance … or at least the yearnings for it that keep her characters going. ( )
  Rob_Dunbar | Nov 8, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385721765, Paperback)

Chenia Arnow is a Russian-Jewish immigrant in 1950s New York, a sharp-witted, Betty Grable look-alike whose accent and Old-World superstitions mask untapped passions and intellectual curiosity. Her husband Ruben is a handsome philanderer who has a knack for creating phony lawsuits. Their precocious daughter Devorah, tells–and often imagines–the richly involving story of their lives.
No one expects the devoted Chenia to fall under the spell of a lover of her own, but the Arnows' lives unfold in many surprises. In tart and seductive storytelling, Swimming Toward the Ocean follows husbands and wives and children through often shifting and misguided connections, illuminating the timeless patterns of immigrant life, and the search for love and a place in a new world.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:51 -0400)

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