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Most Jewish-American fiction is centered on Jews from New York City or New Jersey or Boston whose parents all retire to Florida. Wasserman examines the diverse west coast experiences of Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and especially Los Angeles, all having their own unique Jewish-American sensibility and quirkiness. Written early in his career, the stories reflect a young writer who was very hungry to make his mark. The stories all have a youthful immediacy and energy. This edition of The Temporary Life has a new forward written by the author and includes a book group guide. In this stunning debut collection, Wasserman's beautifully crafted stories chart the experiences of characters who, in various ways, must come to terms with the less-than-perfect realities of their lives. He writes with a rare mix of ironic wit and compassionate perception, and the result is both captivating and luminous. Whether he's depicting the hollow bar mitzvah of a middle-aged man's spoiled nephew or an estranged couple's unlikely attempt to save their dying son, his keen eye renders his characters extraordinary in their contradictions, compromises, and subtle moments of redemption. —Frederick Reiken, author of Day for Night Wasserman probes the nether regions of the human spirit with a wisdom that belies his years. Restless, unflinching, tender, the voices in these rich and layered stories carry across a multitude of landscapes—family, politics, religion. Haunted by the echoes, you'll want to read them more than once. —Anne Whitney Pierce, author of Rain Line While it's the "dubious attachment to ethnicity" in these stories that gives the collection the ballast to carry it to its target audience, for me, what floats the book is Wasserman's way of layering humor—gentle, sly, and rabid—into many of these serious stories. A fine first book by a talented young man. —Rick Hillis, author of Limbo River
University of Akron Press
Short Stories, Jewish Literature
Eric Wasserman, "The Temporary Life Stories" (2010). The University of Akron Press Publications. 130.