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Light Fell Hardcover – January 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 229 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Press; First Edition edition (January 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569474672
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569474679
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,336,239 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When literature professor Joseph Licht invites his five adult sons to celebrate his 50th birthday in 1996 Tel Aviv, he hopes to win his boys' love and forgiveness by plying them with their favorite foods. From that opening in Fallenberg's ambitious debut, Joseph's life unfolds in retrospect: 20 years earlier, as a married father of five, Joseph discovers he is gay as he falls in love with a charismatic, and married, rabbi. The rabbi kills himself not long after he and Joseph start their affair, and a crushed Joseph, in one fell swoop, jettisons his marriage and adherence to Modern Orthodox Judaism. The familial repercussions are myriad and extreme, leaving Joseph's wife bereft and his sons with issues that range from low self-esteem and lack of trust to fanatical nationalism and religiosity. While Joseph and the rabbi's lovemaking is sentimentalized, and Joseph's and one son's homosexual awakenings seem abrupt, Fallenberg's descriptions of Israeli life, from the rural and academic arenas to the gay milieu, are credible and absorbing. The book adroitly sketches the heartfelt struggles of a sympathetic cast. (Jan.)
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Customer Reviews

This is a rare talent in a writer.
A. Kozak
If you are gay and Jewish, particularly if you grow up in a household with any degree of religious observance, this book will mesmerize you on many levels.
beardocnj
The struggle between the lure and pull of Jewish sources and love of another soul are tangible and delicately depicted.
enthusiastic reader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ronald Scheer on June 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Half-way through this novel I almost gave up on it. It was hard to meet on its own terms, its plot turns a bit melodramatic, its tone almost operatic. An Israeli scholar, married with five young sons, becomes enamored of a charismatic rabbi, and after a four-month affair leaves his family. Taking place as it does within the context of religious beliefs that condemn what he has done, this turn of events creates a tidal wave of ramifications that grow and converge years later at a fiftieth birthday dinner, where long buried secrets and resentments are finally voiced. Father and sons are then left to mend a lifetime of disappointments and grievances.

The book represents on one level a kind of microcosm of points of view among Israelis about Israel - from a zealot founder of a settlement on the West Bank, to an ultra-Orthodox young couple, to reformed and secular Jews. On another level, it is a fierce domestic drama, rich with guilt, recriminations, petty cruelties, and other sorrows. Finally it is an extended meditation on the conflict between truth to oneself and what is owed to others. To what extent, the author wants us to ask, is being true to one's nature merely self-indulgent hedonism? The answer does not come easily, and when they get to the last page, readers of this novel will find the question not completely answered. There is more to the story to be told, and we are left with any number of clues about what lies in store for all of the characters we have come to know.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By enthusiastic reader on March 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
It takes place in Israel, and breaches daring new ground. The struggle between the lure and pull of Jewish sources and love of another soul are tangible and delicately depicted. Yes, one can have a love affair with study and meaning. The struggle of someone at the critical age of 50, and the meeting with his adults sons, who are people struggling to define themselves in light of their father's choices. The meeting between the father and his adults sons rings true with painful accuracy, the anger, the expections and the disappointments and surprises. Some amazing story telling takes place, because the characters each tell a story of the human condition, which is heart wrenching and real, and thus they get to know each other, and we do too. So the author is setting the scene, and we are invited to a table heaving with home made delicacies which we have been a participant in their creation,but the characters themselves do the story telling. We, as readers, learn about the power of storytelling as a tool for breaking down the isolation between human beings, generations, sexual preferences, and those with different beliefs and abilities. I loved the exposee of a woman with special needs being more developed in love than those who are "typical." Highly recommended. Bravo!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jenni Tsafrir on December 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The protagonist, Joseph Licht, who lives on a religious moshav in Israel with his wife and five sons, is drawn into a close emotional and physical relationship with his idol, a serious and highly-regarded religious scholar, himself married and a father. The repercussions on both their families form the focus of this sensitive story. It is very moving to see how Josesph battles to maintain a good relationship with his sons as they are growing up, with very limited success until their renewed gathering at Joseph's 50th birthday celebration dinner in their honor.
Evan Fallenberg's flowing prose navigates us admirably through the complexities of these relationships, against the background of Israeli moshav life in the 1970s, and later, Tel Aviv in the 1990s.

A powerful and thought-provoking book, lifting us well above the usual banalities of gay relationships.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By beardocnj on March 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's amazing to me that the author is a straight man, though I note he has acknowledged authorities on Jewish gay issues. The prose is mellifluous, picking you up and carrying you along so that the writing alone is a joy; the plot only adds to it.
If you are gay and Jewish, particularly if you grow up in a household with any degree of religious observance, this book will mesmerize you on many levels. From his beginning as a "conventional" intellectual, balancing his studies with a family of five highly diverse boys and his wife, to his metamorphosis to his independence as a gay man trying to reconnect with his children, the story amazes and spellbinds.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Domus on March 15, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am not Jewish, so I was not raised in a Jewish household, and so I cannot speak to the accuracy of the authors' account of the various celebrations he describes. My instincts tell me, however, that he knows what he is talking about. I suspect some of the other reviewers have already touched on this question. For me, the book is beautifully written , and I think the chief critic so far would like a different book. His criticisms are well taken, but the book he would like to have read would add another 200 pages. More importantly I felt that I was being drawn into one version of a Jewish family life, and it resonated as truthful to that version. I have read so many bad books that critics reward with 5 stars, that I cannot imagine giving this book less than 5. I strongly recommend it to you.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on December 31, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In 1996 in Tel Aviv, literature professor Joseph Licht hopes to reconnect with his five adult sons as he desperately needs their forgiveness. Twenty years ago he deserted them and their mother when he realized he loved married male Rabbi Yoel Rosenzweig; Joseph was unaware that he was gay until that moment, but soon after he and his rabbi began their affair until a guilt wracked Yoel killed himself. Stunned by his loss, a grieving Joseph ended his marriage to Rebecca and his relationship with their five offspring. He also no longer practiced Judaism after three decades as an Orthodox Jew. Now he invites his children to join him on his fiftieth birthday although he is unsure they will come for each of them has major emotional problems that he knows he caused by what he did to them two decades ago when they were young.

Readers will feel empathy towards the five sons although their range of issues seems to run the gamut. Life in many aspects of Israel comes across very deep as the audience is taken to locales where the Licht family live to include the Negev, the university, the kibbutz and a small gay enclave. Although the look back to the Joseph-Yoel tryst is seen through a fond schmaltzy nostalgic lens even by the sons rather than a nuke that destroyed two families, readers will enjoy this deep family drama of a disdained patriarch trying to reconnect with the now adult children he deserted.

Harriet Klausner
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