Insight into some secrets of suburban life

Bertrand Court by Michelle Brafman, © 2016 Prospect Park Books;; ISBN 978193-8849800; 255 pages.

By Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison

Bertrand CourtSAN DIEGO –Bertrand Court might be found in any suburban city of the United States; its characters are as familiar as your next door neighbors.  Through Brafman’s fictional work, however, you may gain keener insight into your neighbors’ dreams and foibles, and perhaps even into your own.

This book is a collection of short stories, loosely held together by the fact that their characters either live on Bertrand Court or are related in some fashion to people who do live there.  It is the type of literary construction that we are used to seeing in popular television shows with several stories going on at once, the camera skipping from one to the other and back again.  Unlike a novel, there is no central thesis that drives this narrative forward, and no major plot that must be resolved.

The situations are varied. For example, a young wife while trying to become pregnant, becomes jealous of a sister-in-law who already has small children.

An intermarried couple has a brit milah for their son, all the while being worried about the reaction that the parents of the non-Jewish partner will have to the rite.

A young mother who makes the snacks for a children’s party uses the wrong ingredient resulting in food poisoning.

A woman who is developmentally challenged narrates how she feels about others being condescending.

The wife of a once powerful man cannot bear to tell the neighbors he can’t find another job.

Just starting out on her career, a woman carries on a flirtation with an older man in her office.

These stories, and more, are narrated by the participants, so that we not only read about the situations;   we feel as if we are living them along with the characters.

The intensity of Brafman’s story-telling is her strength.

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Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World.  He may be contacted via [email protected].  Comments intended for publication in the space below MUST be accompanied by the letter writer’s first and last name and by his/ her city and state of residence (city and country for those outside the United States.)

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