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In his startling debut, Marche offers up a rare hybrid: the page-turner prose poem. Raymond and Hannah meet at a party in Toronto, and what might have been a one-night stand blossoms into something more enduring. In lyrical paragraphs labeled in the margins (e.g., "Lost virginities"), Marche maps out their five-day love affair with bursts of confession, philosophical musing and notes on the infinitesimal shifts of mood between kisses. On Raymond and Hannah's second day together, "The afternoon is a labyrinthine flex of joints twisted around each other in a variety of blisses." But at the end of the week, Hannah leaves Canada and her WASPy lover for a previously scheduled nine-month stay in Jerusalem. Their e-mail exchanges about their respective cities and pursuits—Raymond is writing a doctoral dissertation on Robert Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy while Hannah studies Torah at an Orthodox yeshiva—don't necessarily forward the plot, but rather reveal how little two people can really tell each other. In between their letters, the novel offers utterly convincing glimpses of both characters' lives. Especially full-bodied is the evocation of Hannah's struggle to understand her Jewish identity, not just through study but through the city of Jerusalem itself. In this lushly romantic book, love between Jew and atheist gentile resembles the divided city, simultaneously impossible and actual. Agent, Jacqueline Kaiser, Westwood Creative Artists (Toronto). (May)
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A week before leaving for an intense course of study in Israel, the Jewish Hannah picks up the Gentile Raymond at a party. What is meant to be a one-night stand turns into an intense, weeklong affair. The assimilated Hannah is going to Israel to try to discover her roots and herself. Raymond is trying to avoid writing his dissertation on Robert Burton. They decide to continue the affair via e-mail and phone calls. This lyrical first novel is written in brief passages, each with its own subtitle. At first this might seem like an -Internet-age or postmodern writing gimmick, but the technique suits the subject matter well. The intellectual journeys of both protagonists are perhaps a little overexplained, since what is compelling here is their relationship with each other. The characters are likable and believable, and their romantic dilemma will resonate with many readers. Marta Segal
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.