Making the Rounds Paperback – March 18, 2016
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"All the magic of Harry Potter with none of the phony gravitas: all the self-deprecating humour of Phillip Roth, but with a much-improving supernatural air." -Cory Doctorow
"Making the Rounds is a book that all should be able to enjoy. On the one hand, Jews should be delighted to read fantasy stories set within their culture. On the other hand, non-Jews might find the book exotic (not a bad thing for fantasy), but they will also find it easily accessible, with most concepts taken from Judaism explained for a non-Jewish audience. (It doesn't hurt that some ideas in fantasy come from Jewish mysticism: the idea, for instance, that magic derives from the power of words has its genesis in the Kaballah, as is mentioned in more than one of the stories in the collection.)" - Ira Nayman, Amazing Stories Magazine
- Paperback : 200 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1770531165
- ISBN-13 : 978-1770531161
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.46 x 8.5 inches
- Item Weight : 9.1 ounces
- Publisher : EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing (March 18, 2016)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #9,509,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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At first I thought this was a book of short stories, since the first few each recounted that the wizard is serving a consequence for doing something in the past that he shouldn't have done. But then it became a short story with chapters titled "Day 1, 2, 3. ..8." Each contained a rather clever task that this wizard was to perform in return for room and board for the night for him and his horse. (that's the consequence - he doesn't really have one home and so is an itinerant magic maker). Since he's a wizard, he can communicate back and forth with his friendly beast of burden; I enjoyed those snippets of conversation. One task requires him to find a lost letter from a book, and he discovers his surroundings have a peculiar familiarity; another later on requires him to make a slothful and lustful wanderer happier than he rightfully should be (that got the 'some sexual content' rating but really, only suggestive). His final task guides him through the eight days - he is to return a scroll to its rightful place but he isn't told where that is. The ending left me expecting more, something stronger. While even the wise wizard becomes wiser, it made we turn the page with a "that's it" kind of feeling.
I really enjoyed all the Yiddish words and phrases, and the fact that the wizard is Jewish and celebrates shabbot and holidays like Yom Kippur is original.
Making the Rounds contains episodes in the wanderings of Eliezer ben-Avraham, an itinerant Kabaalist magician, who is cursed to do mitzvah (good works) in exchange for bed and board because he pursued forbidden knowledge. He and his talking horse roam a desert, looking for people he can help. Humorous and entertaining, these stories will expand your knowledge of Yiddish and Jewish customs and holidays if you are goyim, as I am. Although one reviewer didn't find himself invested in the characters, I enjoyed Eliezer and his horse and cared about "what happens next". I've never read anything quite like these stories and appreciate the difference. Definitely light reading, but interesting and amusing, it expanded my horizons. I recommend it!
Although the stories in Making the Rounds have been described as “weird,” I found them to be good explication of wisdom literature, containing magical realism, references to ancient texts, and reminiscent of Don Quixote and the Biblical story of Balaam and his talking donkey (with a slight touch of Mister Ed and Donkey from Shrek thrown in for good measure). Even for goyim like myself, the stories are full of wit and a very palatable exploration of the power of the word (both upper and lower case). However, knowledge of Yiddish, Hebrew, and the Jewish faith will undoubtedly greatly enhance the experience. While probably not for everyone, I found spending time with Eliezer to be very enjoyable.
(I received an advance reader copy from the publisher with the request for an unbiased review. )