Book Review: What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank

Book: What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank
by Nathan Englander
Reviewed by: Kester

Any storyteller worth his or her salt knows that to tell a universal story, one must tell a specific one or else risk leaving the reader with something too broad and vague. Nathan Englander tells specific stories, particular stories, stories less about “people,” and “places,” and “things” and more about an Orthodox couple visiting friends in Florida and smoking pot in their kitchen. And that’s just the title story.

In “Camp Sundown” a group of geriatric campers seek vigilante-style justice. “Free Fruit For Young Widows” is about a father and son and the subject of evil. And “Everything I Know About My Family On My Mother’s Side” is a perfect example of how Nathan Englander combines the witty and winsome.

These are stories about the way that ritual and writ run against and alongside real life. In What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, Englander brilliantly weaves the sacred and secular together so deftly as to make them impossible to separate. In doing so, he reveals the ways in which what is holy can be both heartbreaking and hilarious.

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