Books Library, 2003
all wanderers share a secret thought—to escape from the
structured, habitual scheme of things and find abode in a strange,
world of uncertainties. One concept lures them: the withdrawal.
is his first novel. The book, however,
never gives even the slightest hint to a reader who examines the
theme, the plot, and the brilliant characterizations that this
is a maiden voyage.
To Len Fishman, the protagonist
of the story, home is a symbol of confinement. He is repelled from home until
he succeeds in
a stranger—to others as well as to himself.
years of self-exile, Len returns to his yellow room, his old mother,
and to his Alzheimer-stricken father. Len
is forty-six now, and finds his transcendence incomplete. While
vibrant memories unsettle Len, the sheer absence of memory keeps
his father content and lighthearted.
When Len’s former English
master, Mr. Bloom, invites him to a small party at his house, Len
steps into a new life path.
Involuntarily, he is sucked deeper into a complex circle of relationships.
The wanderer hits ho me..
Len’s fifth-grade memories
soon grow to dominate his life. During this miraculous return to childishness
he adorns himself
with faded jeans and T-shirts.
No loss is greater than the
of youth. No memory is more painful
than the memory of the painful past. When confronted by an uncertain
future and an unpromising present, Len earnestly seeks a return
to the distant past. Of particular interest to him now is Sonia,
on whom he had a “crush” during his school days. It
is with disappointment that he learns that Sonia has become a Wall
Street lawyer, a widow, and the mother of two children.
is ultimately too small a word for so great a process—leads
him to fundamental questions
of love and family. Sadly, they remain unanswered.
greatness lies in its ability to simultaneously charm, stun and
shock the reader. Mr. Hoffman succeeds in portraying
Len’s unsettled personality, his growing skepticism and his
mounting fascination with youth in a simple yet profound style.
The book is strikingly original; the prose steady and coherent
and the characters naive and life-like. Recommended.