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How This Night Is Different: Stories

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  118 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Elisa Albert's debut story collection marks the arrival of an extraordinary new voice in fiction. In "How This Night Is Different," Albert boldly illuminates the struggles of young, disaffected Jews to find spiritual fulfillment. With wit and wisdom, she confronts themes -- self-deprecation, stressful family relationships, sex, mortality -- that have been hallmarks of her ...more
Hardcover, 198 pages
Published June 1st 2006 by Free Press (first published 2006)
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Michael Janairo
In the title story of Elisa Albert's comic and irreverent debut collection, "How This Night is Different" (Free Press; 208 pages; $18), a young woman brings her boyfriend home to meet the family during Passover and to introduce him to his first seder.

She describes him to her mother as "Kind of like a Jew for Jesus, but minus the Jew part." And to him, she summarizes the meal as "You get constipated, you get sick on bad wine, you talk biblical mythology until everyone nods off in their bone-dry
This collection of short stories may even be better than The Book of Dahlia, which is incredible because I loved The Book of Dahlia. Both emotionally satisfied and filled with envy, I want to write Elisa Albert a creepy love letter -- not unlike the one to Philip Roth that concludes this book.
Leah Wener-Fligner
When I read book jacket quotes like the one from Variety on the edition I read, generally I run screaming. "A dark, witty, and incisive take on modern-day disaffected Jewish youth," screams the cover. Yeah? Go incise yourself, pretentious reviewer. This time around, I must eat my words. How This Night Is Different is WONDERFUL. I agree with some of the other reviews here that it suffers a little bit from same-old-narrator--I read through it four stories at a time and then felt the need for a lit ...more
Elisa Albert's short stories were bitingly sarcastic, funny, and filled to the brim with this postmodern Jewishness of Judaism as experienced by Jews who feel largely out of sync with their heritage and/or life.

Most of the stories revolved around sardonic, pill-popping slightly self-absorbed female characters. Sometimes, their behavior leaned a little too much towards sensationalism for the sake of sensationalism, especially in "Everything But," which struck me as patently unrealistic. Other sto
I maybe would have liked this, had I read it in middle or high school. I'm pretty sure I WROTE some of these stories in middle or high school. But you know what? I grew up and realized they were stupid. Apparently I'm much more comfortable with my Judaism than Elisa Albert. The only story I sort of liked was "The Living", just for the fact that I relate to how Shayna feels on large group trips. But even that story felt unfinished, missing something.

Otherwise? I don't need long descriptions
Wait! This isn't the review it appears to be! How This Night Is Different IS an excellent collection of short stories, but the book I really want to talk about is Elisa's new novel, The Book of Dahlia, due out this spring. She's a friend of mine, so I'm obviously completely biased, but I thought the book -- about an underemployed, sardonic twentysomething dying of cancer -- was great: as funny as it was sad, and vice versa. So I'm building advance buzz, as they say (biased, biased buzz). March 2 ...more
I can't say I got much out of the stories. They never felt finished to me.
I liked this book, but I think I would have appreciated it more if I had read it before Book of Dahlia. It's hard to choose between giving it 3 or 4 stars. Why isn't there an option for 1/2 stars?
Hot tapdancing Jebus, I loved this book. I think I want to marry Elisa Albert. This is one of the few books that really struck my Jewiness, however small that is.
Aug 16, 2007 Amanda rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Oriana Leckert
LOVE LOVE LOVE her. Can tell it's her first book but love her. Jil, you were right, sorry it took me so long to finally read it!
I kind of fell in love with her and her ability to make me laugh. Don't skip the letter at the end to Philip Roth.
this book f**king rocks. seriously. it makes me proud of my imprint, which is pretty hard to do.
Caro Buchheim
very enjoyable, smart and universal writing about the female experience. loved it.
short stories centering on Jewish holidays--very funny and irreverent
one of my FAVORITE authors.
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Elisa Albert is the author of the short story collection How This Night is Different, the novel The Book of Dahlia, and the editor of Freud's Blind Spot: Writers on Siblings. Albert is a founding editor of and an adjunct assistant professor of creative writing at Columbia University. Her writing has appeared on NPR and in Tin House, Salon, The Rumpus, and in several anthologies. Her new ...more
More about Elisa Albert...
The Book of Dahlia Freud's Blind Spot: 23 Original Essays on Cherished, Estranged, Lost, Hurtful, Hopeful, Complicated Siblings After Birth Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York

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