Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Frozen Rabbi, by Steve Stern

This is one of the strangest books I've read.  Parts of it were terrific, and bring to mind Michael Chabon. Parts of it were infuriating, needlessly arcane, disturbing or unnecessary.   Some of the dialog is in Yiddish with nary a footnote of translation, and while I could puzzle out some of it, some of it was just puzzling.  

To give you a lay of the land, the book opens in 1999 with a teenager digging around the basement freezer to find a piece of meat with which to -- never mind, you don't want to know.  He comes across the frozen body of a Polish Rabbi who, as we later learn, accidentally froze in the late 1800s in Poland.  The story is about how that came to be, but more about how that body ended up in Memphis TN.  And about what happens next.

This is a difficult book to score; part of me says four stars and part of me says two stars.  If the description hasn't already scared you off then you might like to read this.  Any blog readers out there:  if you do read this book, please let me know (via comments) what you think.

The Frozen Rabbi

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