Stealing: A Novel in Dreams

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What would James Joyce (circa 1920, during the composition of his experimental novel Ulysses) have made of a close-knit, talkative, conflict-ridden Jewish American family living through the decades after World War II? Shelly Brivic’s novel offers a compelling and entertaining (if sometimes bewildering) answer to this question. Brivic, himself a distinguished Joyce scholar and literary critic, has set his first novel in the kind of family mythologized by Philip Roth and Woody Allen, among others, but with defamiliarizing storytelling techniques that occasionally risk alienating readers. Using the book’s subtitle, A Novel in Dreams, as a cover for these moves (shifts from third-person narrative to first-person, parallel columns of text, and odd formatting decisions), Brivic tries valiantly to achieve a certain distance from his gritty, all-too-human subject matter, which (true to Joycean instincts), is often grounded in uncomfortable sexual feelings. Brivic’s effort to shed the mantle of analytical prose in favor of in-your-face realism (sometimes surrealism) in this bumpy, knotty family narrative is heroic, in many ways, but it will hardly be popular. Readers sympathetic to his aims will find much to enjoy, but by the end may want a breather from this disjointed and emotionally supercharged world.

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Star Count 3/5
Format Trade
Page Count 263 pages
Publisher Frayed Edge Press
Publish Date 2018-Nov-20
ISBN 9781642510034 Buy this Book
Issue February 2019
Category Modern Literature


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