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The English Disease

3.19 of 5 stars 3.19  ·  rating details  ·  32 ratings  ·  10 reviews
THE ENGLISH DISEASE is a remarkable feat, a story that mixes the Marx brothers and Maimonides, pornographic yoga with Polish paranoia, and the brutality of kindergarten with the beauty of the Kiddush. It's the tale of Charles Belski, an expert in the works of Gustav Mahler, who, like Mahler himself, is talented and neurotic, and a nonpracticing Jew. Belski suffers guilt ov ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published September 15th 2012 by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (first published May 23rd 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-29 of 59)
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After I re-read Skibell's 'A Blessing On The Moon' - a work bordering on classic in quality and demonstrating creative genius with aplomb - I went straight out and ordered his two other novels available at the time. The English Disease was in comparison, a great disappointment. Introverted, self-referential, a novel about narrative and voice, an exercise in sub-Woody Allen American angst, but sadly a different kettle of (gefilte) fish...

The protagonist is a weak and frustrating character, dwarfe
Madeleine McLaughlin
Not as good as Joseph Skibells other works. It was the story itself that I didn't find engaging, kind of boring, in fact.
Obsessed to a fault with the interior life of an unlikeable character, far more self-absorbed than the gold miner in The Colour, embedded in a nearly plotless narrative preoccupied with the plight of the Jews. The author tries to express himself with the sort of intellectual virtuosity & humor that characterizes Tom Robbins's novels, but his ponderous, self-absorbed prose gets tiresome pretty quickly.
Michael Lewyn
his little book describes the adventures of a somewhat assimilated secular Jewish intellectual: first his discontentment with his non-Jewish wife, then his journey to Poland with an obnoxious Jewish colleague, and then the wife's turn to Judaism. It is a quick and pleasant read; I felt like it gave me a sense of what an unhappy-but-not-too-unhappy marriage can be like.
I thought that this was an interesting experiment and well-done in places. I liked its intellectual breadth, and it very adequately communicated the emotional and other challenges of the main character. Although I did not always like this novel, I liked the effort.
Pamela Stadden
Skibell took a gamble with this one.
I read this a while ago, but I don't remember liking it as much as his other two books. but this does contain a mention of my husband's klezmer band, Yid Vicious.
I loved Skibell's first book, A Blessing on the Moon, so I was really looking forward to reading this. Pfah. I didn't get very far into it before I threw in the towel.
Another book I left half-read. And by the middle, I still wasn't exactly sure what the story was supposed to be about.
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