Lev Raphael


A Tale of Two Trains

By Lev Raphael

I am on a train heading into Magdeburg in eastern Germany, an hour or so from Berlin. Sixty-one years ago, my late mother was on a train headed for Magdeburg. Hers didn’t have a dining car or changing electronic displays updating the train’s speed and distance from its next station. She was one of hundreds of internees being transported fromRead More


FALL BOOKS

By Lev Raphael

Shanda: The Making and Breaking of a Self-Loathing Jew By Neal Karlen Touchstone, 224 pages, $23. ———Self-hatred can be fun — for other people, that is.That’s what Neal Karlen learned in college. He could use his profound Jewish self-loathing as a way of attracting mass quantities of shiksas at parties. WhileRead More


This Tale of Mystery Begins With a Corpse –– But Ends With a Twist

By Lev Raphael

Lev Raphael’s latest novel, “The German Money,” is a Book Sense 76 pick.

The Outcast Dove By Sharan Newman Forge, 429 pp, $25.95. —-In mysteries it’s a cliché to introduce a corpse on the first page. In her new book, Sharan Newman seems to drearily fulfill that expectation, offering us a dead body in its first line. JewsRead More


What’s in a Name? If it’s ‘Grubman,’ A Whole Identity

By Lev Raphael

Swagbelly By D.J. Levien Plume, 240 pages, $13. * * *Elliott Grubman, the protagonist in screenwriter D.J. Levien’s new novel, is a man split down the middle, and it’s all there in his oxymoronic name. Look at that prissy “Elliott,” a name — like Howard — that brands many post-Holocaust American Jewish men with theirRead More


The Boring Details of Real-Life Portnoys

By Lev Raphael

The Body of Brooklyn By David Lazar University of Iowa Press, 163 pages, $24.95. * * *If you thought Philip Roth’s Portnoys were emotionally claustrophobic, essayist David Lazar’s real-life family almost has them beat.Not only did his mother seem to know when he was masturbating, as if she had some kind of sexual ESP, but his masturbationRead More






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