IN THE SHADOW OF KING SAUL

Es­says on Si­lence and Song

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Religion Books—nonfiction - JEFF FLEISCHER

Jerome Charyn, Belle­vue Lit­er­ary Press (AU­GUST) Soft­cover $16.99 (272pp), 978-1-942658-42-9

Jerome Charyn has long been a pro­lific writer with di­verse in­ter­ests, and that clearly shines through in his lat­est es­say col­lec­tion. Both lit­er­ary and per­sonal, it’s a strong col­lec­tion of work span­ning decades, all of which still feels fresh.

The book’s ti­tle comes from the first es­say, 1986’s “The Sad­ness of Saul,” in which Charyn ru­mi­nates on the first king of Is­rael, who grew para­noid and died without fan­fare, al­ways sec­ond to his suc­ces­sor, David, in the hearts and minds of his coun­try­men and his God. Charyn ties that feel­ing to his com­pli­cated re­la­tion­ship with his father.

In an­other piece from 1986, he spends a day in New York City with then mayor Ed Koch, which he ties to a visit to El­lis Is­land and re­flec­tions on his fam­ily’s im­mi­grant ex­pe­ri­ence. Two es­says fo­cus on the works of Isaac Ba­bel and his in­flu­ence on Charyn’s writ­ing and world­view. These are all mean­ing­ful es­says about the pub­lic and the pri­vate, as Charyn re­lates his own story to wider nar­ra­tives.

Charyn’s ex­per­tise spans top­ics; some of the best es­says in the book cover sports or cin­ema. “Black Di­a­mond” re­flects on the leg­end of Josh Gib­son, the “black Babe Ruth,” and his pre­ma­ture demise. “Faces on the Wall” re­counts young Charyn’s trips to the movies and his fas­ci­na­tion with screen fig­ures like Rita Hay­worth and Errol Flynn, while “Mr. Feath­ers” ex­plores the sad fate of Jean Se­berg. These es­says all ef­fec­tively con­trast the glam­our of fame and its fleet­ing­ness, but al­ways with the au­thor’s sym­pa­thy and thought­ful­ness.

In all, In the Shadow of King Saul is a valu­able col­lec­tion, both an ef­fec­tive primer for read­ers new to Charyn’s work and an in­trigu­ing read for those al­ready fa­mil­iar, show­ing off his skills as a mem­oirist and a cul­ture writer in equal mea­sure.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.