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Retelling Paperback – July 1, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The mystery of who butchered ethereally beautiful and pregnant Elsbeth is at the heart of Keller's elegant and spooky second novel (part of a trilogy, after Jackpot). Was it the traumatized and fragile narrator, Sally, whose friendship with the dead woman verged on the obsessive? Or was it Elsbeth's arrogant and demanding boyfriend, Drew, who resented Sally's relationship with her? Keller flirts with the answer as her novel slips back and forth through time to depict tantalizing glimpses of possible truths filtered through Sally's uncertain memories. As her emotions unravel, Sally finds solace in the gentlemen who play chess in the park where she breakfasts, and maintains, however fitfully, an uneasy reliance on Lydia, a self-centered and mean-spirited friend who thinks Sally is better off with Elsbeth dead. The police, bent on extracting a confession from Sally, harangue her during increasingly abusive interrogation sessions that provide her a forum for creepily pondering her (questionable) innocence. This opaque yet beguiling novel showcases the work of a talented and original writer. (July)
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In her new trilogy, Tsipi Keller is revealed as a superlative psychological novelist....among the most subtly compelling of our time. -- The Forward/Joshua Cohen, Aug. 4, 2006

Keller has a keen eye for the territorial pissings and unspoken resentments of immature female friendships. -- Village Voice, July 17, 2006, Jessica Winter

TimeOut NY: 7/6/06 Fusing Patricia Highsmith...with Jean Rhys’s woman-in-a-jam claustrophobia... Retelling is great at maintaining mind-bending suspense. — Michael Miller -- time out NY
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Spuyten Duyvil; First Edition edition (July 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933132191
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933132198
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,832,357 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tsipi Keller was born in Prague, raised in Israel, and has been living in the U.S. since 1974. The author of nine books, she is the recipient of several literary prizes, including National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowships, New York Foundation for the Arts Fiction Awards, and an Armand G. Erpf Award from Columbia University. Her novels include "The Prophet of Tenth Street" "Retelling" and "Jackpot." Her most recent translation collections are: "Poets on the Edge: An Anthology of Contemporary Hebrew Poetry" and "The Hymns of Job & Other Poems." Her most recent novel is "Elsa" (May 2014).

Recent reviews for "Elsa" (excerpts)

Elsa is the third in Tsipi Keller's trilogy of psychological novels. The first two were Jackpot and Retelling, which trace the fortunes of women. Elsa calls to mind some of Richard Burgin's noir fiction. Both writers explore the world of nefarious, but initially engaging, operators who insinuate themselves into the lives of lonely strangers aiming to control or ruin them.... Much more than a tale about a smart woman who makes foolish choices, Elsa is a fast-paced, tightly crafted, suspenseful, psychological crime novel that sidles up to the reader, then pounces. Lynn Levin/Cleaver Magazine.

Women Only
Evan Steuber
From: American Book Review
Volume 35, Number 5, July/August 2014

Elsa is a woman of thirty-nine: a tax lawyer who lives alone with her cat. She talks about men with her friends. Imaginatively, she plays out the roles she may yet be prepared for ... the way she will move and interact in the world "just like in the movies." She is a classic literary figure, caught in the everyday ... escaping the present through her romantic imaginings, a Madame Bovary in the twenty-first century. Tsipi Keller is more than aware of this, as Flaubert sticks his head in at one point: "The promise of love, faint as it is, does wonders for her. The promise of love, of romance, of beautiful sex. So what if women, to believe Flaubert, mistake their vaginas for their hearts? So what? Let them. Let her. What does Flaubert know about love? Let her mistake what part she chooses for her heart."

Read Melanie Page's review of "Elsa" here:

Recent reviews for "The Prophet of Tenth Street" (excerpts):

"Tsipi Keller has taken us into a writer's very being.... This is a provocative story that stays with the reader." Jewish Book World

"Poet and novelist Keller (Retelling) handles this poignant tale with the deftness of a writer who has struggled alongside her characters." -- Publishers Weekly

"It is beyond difficult to write fiction about a fiction-maker; not only do you have to get into the guy's head, you've got to create a plot in which something actually happens. Keller does both, and in a way that's unnerving--how does she know so much about what it means to be a man, trapped in his head, convinced he will find and reveal the essential truths of life?" -- Head Butler

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Position on August 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is the second book by Keller I have read. Quite gradually it wove its tentacles around me until I was trapped inside it. Two-thirds of the way through, I couldn't put it down and got so absorbed I stood up a date who was waiting for me. At first the character seems unpleasant, with a painful lack of self-awareness. Then, bit by bit, her way of seeing the world becomes your way, her fear becomes your fear, and her feeling of being trapped becomes your feeling of being trapped. Keller is a brilliant spinner of suspense stories, and each of her books (Jackpot and this one) worked like hypnosis on me. Her narrative style is seamless and builds in slow, irresistible waves. She understands that the portrayal of character is a cumulative process. No suspension of disbelief is necessary when reading this book. Without even trying, you become a part of it, as if you've been plunged into a dream. _Retelling_ is the best book I've read in years. I can't stop thinking about it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By JE on July 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
I loved this book. Can't wait for the next one! Stunning combo of suspense novel and claustrophobic psychological study. An exquisite torture. I highly recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David and Shoshana Cooper on December 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
As in "Jackpot" Keller again portrays a single NY woman's psychological disintegration. The way Keller combines a Proustian attention to detail with a Kafkaesque plot and her own insights about friendship and loneliness makes for compelling reading and rewarding rereading.
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