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This seamless work of lyrical intensity mimics both in tone and substance one of Bach’s grand compositions. It centers around two friends who are reunited after years of separation through an accidental meeting in New York’s Greenwich Village—a meeting which becomes the catalyst for the nearly nonstop tale of the life and death of the mother of one, a holocaust survivor recently dead of cancer in New York. In the telling of the tale, recent as well as distant events are uncompromisingly exposed and historical as well as interpersonal connections at times painfully, yet always lovingly revealed. This journey of words is not without considerable risk to both the teller and the listener who is eventually joined by his girlfriend with little or no historical perspective. “The Goldberg Variations” as played by Glenn Gould is a recurrent theme throughout the novel, as it is one of the few pieces of music comforting the mother as she nears her end. This novel is a moving portrait of the past as well as the present, and in its grand as well as small scale becomes a successful exploration of the myriad ups and downs of human relationships.

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