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Savage Shorthand

Best Seller
Savage Shorthand by Jerome Charyn
Dec 18, 2007 | ISBN 9780307431790

Available from:

  • Dec 18, 2007 | ISBN 9780307431790

    Available from:

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“I often approach writing on Isaac Babel, my father, with a certain apprehension–especially when biography is concerned. Jerome Charyn’s book is a most welcome surprise. It is both clear-sighted and eloquent. In his text, we encounter the same kind of audacity and compassion we find in my father’s work.”
Nathalie Babel

“D. H. Lawrence’s essays on American classics, Charles Olson on Melville in Call Me Ishmael: To these definitive writers’ studies of the writers who haunt and fascinate them we must add Jerome Charyn’s Savage Shorthand. Charyn writes as a citizen of that Russian suburb the Jewish East Bronx of the 1940s and 1950s–scene of so much of his tough, moving fiction–and he discovers Babel to be his neighbor, and nearly his kin. Written with passion and precision, gutsy and learned at once, this Shorthand casts a long, broad shadow.”
Frederick Busch, author of The Night Inspector

“Savage Shorthand: The Life and Death of Isaac Babel is a tour de force. In full pursuit of his modern Russian master, Jerome Charyn has summoned all his gifts as a reader, literary critic, memoirist, and historical sleuth to brave the rigors of the Red Terror and grasp his elusive idol’s ghost. In the process he has produced an arresting novel of his own, nightmarish in its portrayal of political intrigue and horror, yet as irrepressible as Babel’s lively crier, Benya Krik. A memorable achievement.”
Robert Fagles, Princeton University

“How many of us have been stunned, challenged, changed by Babel’s stories–all this now somehow called up by Charyn’s absolutely radiant book.”
Joseph McElroy, author of Actress in the House

“As a longtime admirer of Jerome Charyn’s writing, I expected something quirky and exceptional from his study of Isaac Babel. But this book, centered on the mystery of the great Russian writer’s life, heads with passion into territory beyond Babel’s tragedy. Having just finished the book, I think it something very like a masterpiece. I believe I’ll wake up tomorrow with the same opinion.”
Herbert Gold, author of Fathers and A Girl of Forty

“Jerome Charyn’s journey through Babel’s stories–and through Babel’s extraordinary life–is as tender and astonishing as it is tough-minded and memorable. For anyone who believes in the redemptive power of the imagination, even in the darkest, most brutal times, this book is essential.”
Jay Neugeboren, author of Imagining Robert

“It took a novelist of Jerome Charyn’s stature to penetrate the layers of mythology surrounding this magnificent artist–much of it created by Babel’s murderers, much more by Babel himself. A truly absorbing, fascinating book–I don’t know of anyone else who could have written it.”
Peter S. Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn

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