Cover image for An hour in paradise : stories
An hour in paradise : stories
Leegant, Joan.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton, [2003]

Physical Description:
224 pages ; 22 cm
The tenth -- Lucky in love -- How to comfort the sick and dying -- The lament of the rabbi's daughters -- The seventh year -- Mezivosky -- Seekers in the Holy Land -- Henny's wedding -- Accounting -- The diviners of desire : a modern fable.
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A wonderful new voice combining the offbeat sensibility of Nathan Englander and the compassionate eye of Allegra Goodman. In settings Hollywood's outskirts to Sarasota, Florida, the characters in this mesmerizing debut collection are drawn to the seductions of religion, soldiering on in search of divine and human connection.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

From the aged Boston rabbi forced to consider the divine meaning of an earthly encounter to the American graduate student mining for religious connection in a Safed synagogue, Leegant populates her stories with Jews driven by spiritual yearning. And yet, fleshly longing comes through as more potent and more dangerous in these stories. In Lucky in Love --one of the most poignant examples in this collection of emotionally powerful stories--lovers separated by duty for 40 years finally come together but discover it may be too late. In Henny's Wedding, a young girl witnesses her older sister suffer the consequences of an affair with a married man. Is that what being swept up did to you? the sister asks herself. Took away your sense and made you helpless against its demands? Because if that were so, she, Shirley, would be its next willing partner. Leegant is as skillful at conveying a virgin's tingling sexual curiosity as she is at portraying an old man's grappling with the mystery of miracles. --Karen Holt Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Leegant's slim first collection offers 10 sharply written stories about Jewish characters both young and old, secular and Orthodox, as they address questions of faith, love and change. In "How to Comfort the Sick and Dying," a yeshiva student struggling to leave behind his drug-dealing, womanizing ways is sent by his rabbi to visit a man dying of AIDS, but guilt about his past and his inability to comfort the dying man spark a crisis of faith. "Accounting" is the sad tale of an aging father and a willfully optimistic mother forced to face yet another betrayal by their handsome, profligate son: "Cleaning up after Eliot had become for them not only an act of penitence but an attempt to correct the balance, an effort to ensure that the world did not suffer a net loss on account of their son. For every debit inflicted by him they were obliged to provide, in the other column, a credit." In "Henny's Wedding," it is 1943, and a young bride stumbles through her wedding ceremony nearly incapacitated by morning sickness. Younger sister Shirley, far from being embarrassed or ashamed, vows to make daring choices of her own, and quickly finds herself in the arms of a charming cad-the groom's brother. The collection's heartwarming finale, "The Diviners of Desire: A Modern Fable," describes a different kind of courtship; set in Jerusalem, it pokes gentle fun at the labors of matchmakers. Throughout these stories, Leegant reveals herself to be an empathic, gifted creator of people and worlds. Thought-provoking and funny, touching and disturbing, this is an auspicious debut. (Aug.) Forecast: Fans of Allegra Goodman will particularly enjoy Leegant's stories, which bridge the worlds of secular and religious Judaism. Author tour. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A drug dealer turned yeshiva student who comforts AIDS patients, an American in Safed who confronts Kabbalist mysteries, a rabbi whose minyan is visited by Siamese twins who might literally be angelic-all of Leegant's characters have their "hour in Paradise." Having won awards for her short fiction, Leegant finally gets a collection. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.