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Neurotica
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Editor Bukiet (Signs and Wonders) serves up this alphabetically organized, stellar collection of Jewish writings focusing on sexual themes. Twenty-seven stories by accomplished writers delve into a range of erotic, disturbing and poignant narratives including classic coming-of-age tales, unconventional fantasies and painful stories of erotic substitutions. An ethnic flavor is intense in some pieces, marginal in others. Jewish customs, typologies and situations peculiar to the Diaspora define pieces by Isaac Bashevis Singer and Max Apple, but Bernard Malamud's story of the seduction and redemption of a Parisian artist doesn't hinge on its religious reference points. The two longest entries will be known to most readers: Harold Brodkey's "Innocence" is a spellbinding story of two Harvard students in love, valiantly striving for the young woman's first orgasm, and Cynthia Ozick's "The Pagan Rabbi" offers a complicated psychological study of a Talmudic scholar's suicide. Other standouts include Leonard Michael's "Murderers," brimming with robust and poetic sentences: "We sat on the roof like angels, derealized in brilliance. Our sneakers sucked hot slanted metal. Palms and fingers pressed to bone on nailheads." These "angels," a quartet of Brooklyn Jewish boys, climb onto a roof to watch their rabbi and his wife copulate, till one boy falls to his death. Central is the tension between Jewish identity and sexual expression, between ethics and desires, with Nathan Englander and Binnie Kirshenbaum weighing in with worthy reflections on these themes. Other contributors include Saul Bellow, Francine Prose and Woody Allen; Philip Roth is represented by a section from The Counterlife, and Erica Jong by the classic first chapter from Fear of Flying. The range of subjects and voices is impressive, and many aspects of sexuality, be they disturbing, ruthless or shocking, or loving, mournful and comical, are probed, sometimes graphically and always unapologetically. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Praise for Neurotica "Abundantly juicy. One bite and you're lost." -- Kirkus Reviews "The range of subjects and voices is impressive, and many aspects of sexuality, be they disturbing, ruthless or shocking, or loving, mournful, and comical, are probed, sometimes graphically and always unapologetically." -- Publishers Weekly "Bukiet's selections are bulletproof . . . You can't go wrong dipping into Neurotica." -- Mordecai Richler, Los Angeles Times Book Review Quite wonderful. There's a lot of shtupping and a lot of laughing, and who doesn't like to laugh and shtup?" -- Johnathan Ames, Backforum

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