Lazar Malkin Enters Heaven (Magill's Literary Annual 1988)
Reaching toward the mythological, Steve Stern’s stories of Jewish life invite comparison with the output of such writers as Isaac Babel, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and Bernard Malamud, whose artfully applied surreal techniques can blend the apocryphal and the real, horror and mirth into apocalyptic vision. Yet Stern insists on another comparison also. In “The Ghost and Saul Bozoff,” the last of the nine stories in Lazar Malkin Enters Heaven, Stern’s direct references to “Prospero’s Cell” inevitably call to mind William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest (1611) and Prospero’s role as creator and director of all the characters on the enchanted island. Indeed, the Pinch, Stern’s Jewish neighborhood on and around North Main Street in Memphis can be seen as a kind of exotic island where the storyteller/artist can with a wave of the magic wand of language give form not only to humans but also to otherworldly spirits.
Artist figures are prominent in most of the stories. The first story in the collection, “Moishe the Just,” introduces the collection’s theme and a typical situation. Nathan Siripkin entertains his adolescent buddies and keeps them enthralled with his imagination. Nathan’s mind is characterized as an overheated brain in an outsized head stuffed with demented creatures straining to break out and run about the streets of the neighborhood. Nathan’s fabrications are given reality by the seriousness and intensity...
(The entire section is 1481 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1988)
Booklist. LXXXIII, February 15, 1987, p. 875.
Kirkus Reviews. LIV, December 1, 1986, p. 1756.
Library Journal. CXII, January, 1987, p. 110.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. May 24, 1987, p. 6.
The New York Times Book Review. XCII, March 1, 1987, p. 11.
The New Yorker. LXIII, July 27, 1987, p. 77.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXX, December 12, 1986, p. 43.
(The entire section is 41 words.)