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The Wedding Jester Paperback – April 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 223 pages
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press (April 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 155597290X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555972905
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,117,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Rich and wondrous, these nine tales confirm Stern's (A Plague of Dreamers) distinctive place in modern American Jewish fiction, as he continues to stake out his own unique territory where history and myth intersect, where Jewish legends, mysticism and ancient traditions implode into the everyday with dazzling and unforeseen consequences. "Magic realism" seems too facile a term to encompass these beguiling, multilayered stories in which a flying rabbi floats above houses and trolleys; a humble cobbler and his wife, transported to Paradise via extraordinarily "ecstatic intercourse," enlist the aid of Elijah, prophet-turned-honorary angel, to return them to earth; and a voracious, man-hungry succubus steps from a mirror to seduce a terrified yeshiva scholar. Fervent dreamers, crackpot messiahs, bedeviled housewives, rowdy beekeepers, vagrant angels and wise fools fiercely pursue their obscure destinies in ingenious fictions that prismatically filter Jewish history, tragedy, consciousness, hope and despair through a modern existential lens. In the hilarious and outrageous title story, set in a Catskills singles resort, the bride-to-beAmoments before she can say "I do"Ais possessed by a dybbuk, in this case the spirit of a wisecracking dead male Borscht Belt comedian. The narrator, a blocked writer who could be Stern's alter-ego, uses a kabbalist kissing technique to exorcise the unruly spirit-which then possesses him. This irreverent, classic story plumbs Jewish humor as a source of strength, a survival tool, a vehicle to resist cant and conformity. Stern's tales utterly transport readers into a fully realized world, whether the setting is the neurotic, Seinfeld-like milieu of a Manhattan writer ("Bruno's Metamorphosis"), or czarist Russia's Jewish ghetto and New York's Lower East Side ("Romance"), or Stern's favorite haunt, a Memphis, Tenn., Jewish community in uneasy coexistence with its gentile neighbors ("Tale of a Kite"). With empathy and bracing wit, Stern's enjoyable stories seismically chart the collision of the Old World and the New, of undying religious traditions and modern secularism, of lust and love, faith and doubt.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In this collection of nine action-packed, richly folkloric stories, Stern (A Plague of Dreamers, LJ 11/1/93) takes his readers on a surrealistic ride steeped in tradition. Jewish mysticism, magic, and otherworldly concerns are featured throughout. In "The Sin of Elijah," Gitl and Feybush Fefer live on the Lower East Side of Manhattan during the early part of the century. Unbeknownst to them, their lovemaking is observed by Elijah the prophet, leading to a trip to heaven, a return to Earth in the present, and other riotous hijinks. In the title story, nondescript writer Saul Bozoff accompanies his mother to a wedding at the Concord Hotel in New York's Catskill Mountains. His shining moment comes when he is able to exorcise a dybbuk from the bride, who becomes possessed at the altar by a long-dead Jewish comic. Apparitions, the fantastical, and uproarious hilarity are featured throughout. Recommended for large fiction collections.AMolly Abramowitz, Silver Spring, MD
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

STEVE STERN's fiction, with its deep grounding in Yiddish folklore, has prompted critics such as Cynthia Ozick to hail him as the successor to Isaac Bashevis Singer. He is the author of critically acclaimed books such as Isaac and the Undertaker's Daughter, winner of the Pushcart Writers' Choice Award; The Wedding Jester, which won the National Jewish Book Award; The Angel of Forgetfulness, one of The Washington Post's Best Books of 2006; and, The North God. Stern currently lives in Balston Spa, New York, and teaches at Skidmore College.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Corey Mesler on May 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
Steve Stern is that rare writer who combines great storytelling with a gift for elaborate, RubeGoldberg sentences. His stories, while comic in nature, reveal hidden depths the more you venture into them. These are tales, rife with magic, that take the reader to places he or she has never been before, places of fantasy and truth, places in the heart and the head. For all his comic exuberance Stern leaves you with much meat to chew on. Highly recommended!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sondra on October 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
I greatly enjoyed this collection of stories. They were quirky and delicious. This was the stuff that my lower east side grandmother believed in. Saints, sinners and we, the observers cheering them on. The "Old Time Religion" with a twist, beautifully expressed in a multicolor canvass. It did evoke Chagall's work.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By James L Miller on April 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
What a gem of a collection! The neighborhood mystical rabbi, the newlywed coupling orthodox couple, et al! I loved picturing the Memphis Jewish neighborhood. Can't wait to read his next work!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chicago Baker on December 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
My only problem with Steve Stern is that he's not a superstar!! His writing is brilliant and what he does with Yiddish themes is transcendent. He uses classic motifs and symbols, such as dybbuks, golems and demons, yet he is accessible to those unfamiliar with Yiddish literature. When his writing is dark, it is redemptive. When it's hilarious, it's also moving. Once you read these stories, you're going to want to read everything he's ever written.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 24, 1999
Format: Paperback
Wild. Imaginative. Entertaining and intelligent. What a joy to read.I look forward to more from Steve Stern who has the ability to take the reader where no other author can.
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