The Pagan Rabbi and Other Stories
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The Pagan Rabbi and Other Stories

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  96 ratings  ·  9 reviews
Ozick is a kind of narrative hypnotist. Her range is extraordinary; there is seemingly nothing she can't do. Her stories contain passages of intense lyricism and brilliant, hilarious, uncontainable inventiveness.
Hardcover, 270 pages
Published January 1st 1971 by Knopf
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These stories aren't nearly as good as other stories of Ozick's I've recently read. They are a little over-written and too short-story-ish. The kind of stories that makes you think of school and that you imagine earnest writing students writing earnestly as they bear their soul on paper along with some extra words to make it look like their soul is more soulful than it probably really is, not that there is anything wrong with their soul to begin with but sometimes there is the feeling to embelli...more
The Pagan Rabbi is an early collection of seven short stories—Ozick’s second published work of fiction, from 1971. The title story is about a bookseller whose books on mysticism are blamed for the suicide of a rabbi. The story begins, “When I heard that Isaac Kornfield, a man of piety and brains, had hanged himself in the public park, I put a token in the subway stile and journeyed out to see the tree.” The two men were friends of sorts, fellow students in rabbinical seminary, but not close exce...more
The first two stories, "The Pagan Rabbi" and "Envy: Or, Yiddish in America" were fantastic, and a great introduction to Cynthia Ozick's writing style, characterization, and themes (take note, anyone who has patiently listened to me gush about her over the past several months). The final story, "Virility," is ALMOST as great. It stumbles a little with the ending--I don't want to give anything away.

In between, there are four other stories, and they have their ups and downs. "The Dock-Witch" has gr...more
Oct 04, 2012 Jan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jan by: Linc Davis
English-language magical realism published in 1971, this collection of short stories by Cynthia Ozick deals largely with American Jews in the decade or so after the Holocaust. It's one of Ozick's early works and the only one of hers I've read. It's extremely well written in a slightly antique style. The overwrought inner agonies of the characters remind me of Russian and Eastern European fiction of the late 19th centuries. The fantastical and supernatural elements really spin my wheels, but the...more
Because I had heard some business where she's highly critical of I.B. Singer, I did a general search and this book came up. I think the story "Envy" is her satire of Mr. Singer. I'm sure I could read an essay collection of hers, but she's one of those that I keep meaning to check out.
I'm on the case...

Just finished "Envy" terribly freaky story. Very sad--funny, but sad about the decline of Yiddish culture (kind of...).

Had to return it to the library. I will probably resume again at a later date...more
"The more piety, the more skepticism. A religious man comprehends this. Superfluity, excess of custom and superstition would climb like a choking vine on the Fence of the Law if skepticism did not continually hack them away to make freedom for purity."

The first two stories are masterful.
I hadn't really meant to read this, but when I looked at the first page, I thought the writing was arrestingly direct and good. But while there are moments of wonderful writing here, the stories as a whole felt overlong and tired. Finishing this book was a bit of a chore.
Alla Polyakova
as all short story books go, I really enjoyed some stories and some went well over my head
Sharon K.
from the Alternatives library in the Women's Community Building
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Recipient of the first Rea Award for the Short Story (in 1976; other winners Rea honorees include Lorrie Moore, John Updike, Alice Munro), an American Academy of Arts and Letters Mildred and Harold Strauss Living Award, and the PEN/Malamud award in 2008.

Upon publication of her 1983 The Shawl, Edmund White wrote in the New York Times, "Miss Ozick strikes me as the best American writer to have emerg...more
More about Cynthia Ozick...
The Shawl Foreign Bodies Heir to the Glimmering World The Puttermesser Papers The Messiah of Stockholm

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