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What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank

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What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank

Stories
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These eight new stories from the celebrated novelist and short-story writer Nathan Englander display a gifted young author grappling with the great questions of modern life, with a command of language...
These eight new stories from the celebrated novelist and short-story writer Nathan Englander display a gifted young author grappling with the great questions of modern life, with a command of language...
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Description-
  • These eight new stories from the celebrated novelist and short-story writer Nathan Englander display a gifted young author grappling with the great questions of modern life, with a command of language and the imagination that place Englander at the very forefront of contemporary American fiction.

    The title story, inspired by Raymond Carver's masterpiece, is a provocative portrait of two marriages in which the Holocaust is played out as a devastating parlor game. In the outlandishly dark "Camp Sundown" vigilante justice is undertaken by a group of geriatric campers in a bucolic summer enclave. "Free Fruit for Young Widows" is a small, sharp study in evil, lovingly told by a father to a son. "Sister Hills" chronicles the history of Israel's settlements from the eve of the Yom Kippur War through the present, a political fable constructed around the tale of two mothers who strike a terrible bargain to save a child. Marking a return to two of Englander's classic themes, "Peep Show" and "How We Avenged the Blums" wrestle with sexual longing and ingenuity in the face of adversity and peril. And "Everything I Know About My Family on My Mother's Side" is suffused with an intimacy and tenderness that break new ground for a writer who seems constantly to be expanding the parameters of what he can achieve in the short form.

    Beautiful and courageous, funny and achingly sad, Englander's work is a revelation.

 
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  • From the book

    What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne FrankThey're in our house maybe ten minutes and already Mark's lecturing us on the Israeli occupation. Mark and Lauren live in Jerusalem, and people from there think it gives them the right.

    Mark is looking all stoic and nodding his head. "If we had what you have down here in South Florida . . . ," he says, and trails off. "Yup," he says, and he's nodding again. "We'd have no troubles at all."

    "You do have what we have," I tell him. "All of it. Sun and palm trees. Old Jews and oranges and the worst drivers around. At this point," I say, "we've probably got more Israelis than you." Debbie, my wife, she puts a hand on my arm. Her signal that I'm taking a tone, or interrupting someone's story, sharing something private, or making an inappropriate joke. That's my cue, and I'm surprised, considering how much I get it, that she ever lets go of my arm.

    "Yes, you've got it all now," Mark says. "Even terrorists."

    I look to Lauren. She's the one my wife has the relation- ship with--the one who should take charge. But Lauren isn't going to give her husband any signal. She and Mark ran off to Israel twenty years ago and turned Hassidic, and neither of them will put a hand on the other in public. Not for this. Not to put out a fire.

    "Wasn't Mohamed Atta living right here before 9/11?" Mark says, and now he pantomimes pointing out houses. "Goldberg, Goldberg, Goldberg--Atta. How'd you miss him in this place?"

    "Other side of town," I say.

    "That's what I'm talking about. That's what you have that we don't. Other sides of town. Wrong sides of the tracks. Space upon space." And now he's fingering a granite countertop in our kitchen, looking out into the living room and the dining room, staring through the kitchen windows out at the pool. "All this house," he says, "and one son? Can you imagine?"

    "No," Lauren says. And then she turns to us, backing him up. "You should see how we live with ten."

    "Ten kids," I say. "We could get you a reality show with that here in the States. Help you get a bigger place."

    The hand is back pulling at my sleeve. "Pictures," Debbie says. "I want to see the girls." We all follow Lauren into the den for her purse.

    "Do you believe it?" Mark says. "Ten girls!" And the way it comes out of his mouth, it's the first time I like the guy. The first time I think about giving him a chance.

    ...

    Facebook and Skype brought Deb and Lauren back together. They were glued at the hip growing up. Went to school together their whole lives. Yeshiva school. All girls. Out in Queens through high school and then riding the subway together to one called Central in Manhattan. They stayed best friends forever until I married Deb and turned her secular, and soon after that Lauren met Mark and they went off to the Holy Land and went from Orthodox to ultra-Orthodox, which to me sounds like a repackaged detergent--ORTHODOX ULTRA®, now with more deep-healing power. Because of that, we're sup- posed to call them Shoshana and Yerucham. Deb's been doing it. I'm just not saying their names.

    "You want some water?" I offer. "Coke in the can?" "

    'You'--which of us?" Mark says.

    "You both," I say. "I've got whiskey. Whiskey's kosher, too,
    right?" "If it's not, I'll kosher it up real fast," he says, pretending
    to be easygoing. And right then, he takes off that big black hat and plops down on the couch in the den.

    Lauren's holding the verticals aside and looking out at the yard. "Two girls from Forest Hills," she says. "Who ever thought we'd be the...

About the Author-
  • Nathan Englander's short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and numerous anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories and The O. Henry Prize Stories. Englander is the author of the novel The Ministry of Special Cases and the story collection For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, which earned him a PEN/Malamud Award and the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

    www.nathanenglander.com

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    Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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