From Publishers Weekly
A Viennese fur dealer confronts his lifes failures in this pleasantly bizarre novel from the author of The Perfect American
. Gustav Rubin, a historian turned fur dealer, has returned from Europe to Manhattan to fetch his mother for a vacation at his lake house, but the trip goes awry at every turn, culminating in an epic traffic jam on the Tappan Zee Bridge. Lending a note of urgency is Gustavs need to arrive at his lake house by dusk; as an Orthodox Jew (a faith his mother neither shares nor much respects), he must cease driving before the Sabbath begins. Mother and son bicker and reminisce about Ludwig Rubin, the familys recently deceased patriarch, until Ludwigs gigantic body appears beneath the bridge, lolling in the Hudson River. Marveling at his fathers enormous presence as he and his mother hammer out the many disappointments of his life, Gustav becomes increasingly aware of his parents power over his life. An unusual and inventive work, Jungks refreshingly strange images give some air to the otherwise claustrophobic narrative confines. (Mar.)
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If there was an award for the most hilariously impossible fictional mother, Jungk, author of the acclaimed novel The Perfect American (2004), would easily win it for Rosa Rubin. Every sentence she utters lashes her son Gustav like a cat-o’-nine-tails. Gustav has come to New York from Vienna to spend the summer upstate with his wife and kids. He’s driving Rosa to the lake house, but they’re stuck on the Tappan Zee Bridge. It’s hot, crowded, and chaotic, and Gustav has seen something strange and distressing in the Hudson River. His mother the mind reader has also seen it: the enormous, naked body of his late, famous physicist father, her husband, Ludwig. In a dazzling mesh of the ordinary and the otherworldly, this mythic vision become a portal onto the haunting story of Rosa and Ludwig, Holocaust survivors, and their burdened son. Bridging the past and present, the living and dead, Jungk turns one family’s sorrows into a microcosm of Jewish heritage. Of great psychological depth and symbolic resonance, this dreamlike tale is worthy of the ancient Greeks. --Donna Seaman