‘American Stranger’ describes several of its characters

American Stranger by David Plante, Delphinium Books © 2018, ISBN 9781883-285759;  239 pages.

By Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison

SAN DIEGO – Nancy is the daughter of Jewish parents who escaped Hitler’s Germany physically, but apparently not emotionally.  There is a distance about them that Nancy never can seem to penetrate. Trying to compensate for their lack of closeness, Nancy seeks emotional intimacy in the arms of lovers. But, there too, the results are unsatisfying.  She really doesn’t know how to get close, perhaps because the men that she intentionally or unintentionally chooses are emotionally unavailable much like her parents.

Readers are mystified along with Nancy by Aaron, a former Chasid who has decided to become a Catholic monk; by Yvon, a Franco-American, who feels guilty about not nursing his dying mother, although the mother wishes him to live his own life; and Tim, a British lawyer intent on climbing the social ladder but who feels handicapped by the fact that he is a Jew.

Of the three, Nancy’s relationship with Yvon is the most intense, even though they seem incapable of talking to each other in full sentences. The keys to both characters are their strained relationships with their parents.   Not much happens outside of the bedroom in this book, but it’s a fairly fast read that will leave you pondering the subtext.

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Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World.  He may be contacted via [email protected]

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Copyright 2017 San Diego Jewish World

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