Their acceptance as acrobats was a stretch, a first-glance guess, a benefit of the doubt granted by circumstance and only as valuable as their debut would prove. It was an absurd undertaking. But then again, Mendel thought, no more unbelievable than the reality from which they'd escaped, no more unfathomable than the magic of disappearing Jews.Another story, "Reb Kringle," is almost breezy by comparison. Each year, one Brooklynite dreads his holiday job from hell, playing Santa Claus in a Manhattan department store: "There were elves posted on each side of Itzik; one--a humorless, muscular midget--wore a pair of combat boots that gave him the look of elf-at-arms. His companion might have been a twin. He wore black high-tops but had the same vigilant paramilitary demeanor." Itzik can put up with the children's accidents and greed, with his sciatica, and even with a mischief maker's attempt to cut off his beard. But when one boy admits that what he really wants to do is celebrate Hanukkah, "the infamous Reb Santa" loses it. Though this is undoubtedly the collection's lightest piece--proof positive that you have to be a saint to be a Jewish Santa--it is no less piercing an examination of identity and obligation than Englander's more heavyweight entries. --Kerry Fried --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
The Relief of Unbearable Urges was a witty collection of humanistic Jewish stories. Although not a Jew myself, I found each story humorous and full of wise human observation. Read morePublished on Nov. 9 2003
It is always nice to be able to learn something new through reading, and not through lectures. I knew absolutely nothing about the Jewish religion until now. Read morePublished on Nov. 9 2003
For the Relief of Unbearable Urges is an excellent book. It's a collection of nine stories, unconnected to one another. Read morePublished on Nov. 9 2003
Nathan Englander's "For the Relief of Unbearable Urges" contained some of the better short stories I have ever read. Read morePublished on Nov. 7 2003 by Cassandra E. Troini
One group of writers I learned to love, as a reader and a Jew, were the great Jewish fiction writers. Read morePublished on April 24 2003 by Amazon Customer
There is a place where ordinary everyday events intersect with the transcendent. This place is ineffable; Rudolf Otto, in his memorable book, "The Idea of the Holy", referred to it... Read morePublished on April 13 2002 by "botatoe"
Nathan Englander's For the Relief of Unbearable Urges is a continuously appealing collection of short stories full of wit and creativity with a sadness hovering over each story. Read morePublished on March 4 2002 by Jennifer
I went to High School with Nathan when he was growing up on Long Island. He was into his Hard Rock period then, running around in skin-tight black leather pants and stud boots. Read morePublished on Oct. 19 2001 by Baruch Fenstermacher