CBR12Bingo – Fresh Start
This is the first Nathan Zuckerman novel and the only previous ones I’ve read were The Human Stain in which he plays the narrator, but not the protagonist, and Exit Ghost, the final novel that ties up loose ends that I didn’t know existed when I read it. In this novel, we find the older Zuckerman looking back at himself at 23. He’s visiting with a renowned Jewish writer (who wrote and published in Yiddish and was translated into English) who we cannot help but see Isaac Bashevis Singer being. He’s written the writer and sent him copies of stories, and he’s been invited to meet up and dine with him in his home in New England. The vast majority of the novel is focused on their conversations, but also Nathan’s history as a writer–the publishing of a successful novella that his family and a local Jewish judge felt was deeply anti-Semitic and his attempts to first become the protege of another successful Jewish novelist much younger than older statesman he’s meeting today. This younger novelist works as a kind of middle-point, but that relationship doesn’t work out because of the kind of inherent sexuality competition that seems to quickly unfold between them. We can think of this novelist as a 75% Saul Bellow and 25% Norman Mailer. So on this afternoon, those damning and embarrassing episodes behind him, we find Nathan finally making headway into his status. While at the house, he becomes instantly fascinated by an alluring young woman living with the older writer (and we find out that she is not sleeping with the older man) who Nathan will find out houses some incredible secrets.