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A Letter to Harvey Milk: Short Stories (Library of American Fiction) Paperback – August 30, 2004


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Product Details

  • Series: Library of American Fiction
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press; 1, With a new preface edition (August 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0299205746
  • ISBN-13: 978-0299205744
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,206,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

These nine stories focus on an array of Jewish and lesbian concerns with a refreshing candor and lack of self-consciousness. The opening piece, "The Gift," introduces a theme that runs throughout the collectionthe conflicts between religious and sexual identity. Here, a simple, straightforward narrative escorts Rachel from the age of five through her 29th year. She alternately questions and embraces the Jewish heritage thrust upon her; endures the sexual advances and Jewish American Princess jokes of a college boyfriend; discovers both her lesbianism and that "being a lesbian is lonely. . . . Being a Jew is lonely. Being alive is lonely." Although pain plays a part in this volume, many of the tales celebrate with warmth and good humor the courageous maintenance of Jewish tradition in radical relationships. The title story takes a different twist as an old man finds both healing and grief in a writing course, while his Jewish lesbian teacher sees in her student an acceptance that her parents have denied her. "Flashback," another startling variation, tells of a young woman's obsession with the Holocaust. The work's immediate and genuine poignancy is sometimes marred by Newman's insistence on sprinkling Yiddish terms and speech patterns throughout the dialogue. The otherwise contemporary characters confront both timely issues, like AIDS, and eternal ones, such as a lovers' quarrel or a mother-daughter misunderstanding. Newman wrote Good Enough to Eat.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"These nine stories focus on an array of Jewish and lesbian concerns with a refreshing candor and lack of self-consciousness.  Although pain plays a part in this volume, many of the tales celebrate with warmth and good humor the courageous maintenance of the Jewish tradition in radical relationships. . . .  Contemporary characters confront both timely issues, like AIDS, and eternal ones, such as a lovers’ quarrel or a mother-daughter misunderstanding." —Publishers Weekly

More About the Author

Lesléa Newman is the author of 64 books for readers of all ages including the teen novel in verse, OCTOBER MOURNING: A SONG FOR MATTHEW SHEPARD; the middle grade novel, HACHIKO WAITS; the poetry collection, STILL LIFE WITH BUDDY; the short story collection, A LETTER TO HARVEY MILK; and the children's books, A SWEET PASSOVER, THE BOY WHO CRIED FABULOUS, THE BEST CAT IN THE WORLD, RUNAWAY DREIDEL! and MATZO BALL MOON. Her literary awards include poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Artists Foundation. OCTOBER MOURNING: A SONG FOR MATTHEW SHEPARD was named an American Library Association 2013 Stonewall Honor Book, and A SWEET PASSOVER was named a 2013 Sydney Taylor Honor as well. A past poet laureate of Northampton, Massachusetts, she is a faculty member of Spalding University's brief-residency MFA in Writing program.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
I read this book as part of my women's studies class and want to thank my professor, Marlene Howell, for leading me and my classmates to this book several years ago. This book really opened my eyes to two worlds that I, as a boring, straight, Presbyterian girl, had always been fascinated by: Judaism and Lesbianism. Newman structures her book so that each of the stories represents one candle on the Hannakah menorah, revealing each woman's fears and issues as they come to terms with their sexuality, religious, and personal issues such as sexual abuse. There are reflections on the Holocaust and discrimination against Jews and homosexuals. While Newman helped me to reflect on my own sexuality, and to discover my own love for other women-without erotic details-you don't need to be bi, lesbian, or Jewish to take something away from this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The title story was shared by a friend. That prompted me to purchase the book. I did not find the other stories nearly as compelling.
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By John Matlock on January 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a collection of stories that offer a fresh perspective on current issues of homosexuality and anti-Semitism. It lends a unique voice to those experiencing growing pains and self-discovery. In these stories characters anxiously discover their lesbian identities while beginning to understand, and finally to embrace, their Jewish heritage.

These nine stories add a dose of humor while confronting the issues of our time like AIDS, and issues that have been around for centuries like mother-daughter misunderstandings. Ms. Newman's characters are just a bit crazy but this helps to transfer the story from the pages to memory.
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Format: Paperback
"A Letter to Harvey Milk," by Leslea Newman, is a collection of 9 stories that explores what it means to be Jewish and lesbian in America. The book includes a glossary of the many Yiddish terms used in the stories.
Newman deals with a number of issues throughout the book: the AIDS crisis, President Reagan's controversial visit to Bitburg, the legacy of the Holocaust, religious chauvinism, "coming out" to parents, preservation of the Yiddish language, and more. Some of her issues seem a bit obvious and even forced, but overall she handles the material effectively.
I found the best story in the collection to be the title story; it's about the relationship between an elderly Jewish man and his writing teacher, a young Jewish lesbian. Also impressive is "The Gift," which consists of snapshots of a woman's life from age 5 to adulthood. "Something Shiny" tells the story of a woman's participation in a lesbian & gay march on Washington. Although much of the book has a dated feel, overall the collection is very moving, and Newman effectively uses touches of humor to offset the seriousness of much of her subject matter. For interesting companion texts, try "Rubyfruit Jungle," by Rita Mae Brown, and "Zami," by Audre Lorde.
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Format: Paperback
This was a truly amazing collection of short stories - it's not easy to pull someone into another world in just a few pages, but Leslea Newman can do it. I've already passed this on to two other friends. This is a book you want to share. :) Laura
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