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Shadows On The Hudson Paperback – Jan 25 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (Jan. 25 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452280036
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452280038
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 608 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,550,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Format: Hardcover
While procrastinating over an essay that needed writing, I once reached for the nearest book on the library shelf. It was a critical discussion of the role of the Schlemiel figure in Jewish literature. I was hooked instantly on Jewish literature, and have read everything that I can find, especially the work of Isaac Bashevis Singer.
Shadows on the Hudson was astonishingly difficult to read. I found myself profoundly depressed for the two weeks I spent reading this novel. It is dark, despairing, and hopeless.
The epilogue, however, makes everything clear. This is not so much a novel as a treatise on religion. This book demonstates why religion is an essential part of humanity, and also explains why Judaism is so unique.
This is a very important book.
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Format: Audio Cassette
Using three narrators to tell the story might be a novel idea if they did it correctly. You'd think they'd use them like actors playing the different parts but instead they trade off so every one gets a few pages and then it goes away. Unlike the book where you can skip to the next chapter you never know when one of the characters is going to shut up so your finger is always on the fast forward button.
The actors are good but they are overwrought - especially Julie Harris. She's not helped by the fact that almost every woman character declares imminent destruction without Grein coming to her rescue. Yet by the end when she says "Grein, if you don't come out I'm going to DIIIIEEEEEEEEE" for the 234th time if you're counting, you WISH that one of these characters would die.
This is one of Singer's EPIC books - meaning that he's writing about one family going away from Judaism, coming back to Judaism, having affairs. Only it's pretty standard fare. He's done it in early 19th century Poland with the Family Moskat. He did it again in late 19th century Poland with The Manor/The Estate (really one book) and now he's doing it in 1946 America. While you might enjoy some of this material - this is one where the narration serves to kill whatever value is in the story - and there's not much there. Maybe it suffers from the serialization. Singer had to repeat himself to keep his readers up to speed. So a character describing a scene that happened 300 pages ago (or 5 tapes back) is going to sound tedious because that character will provide no new insight.
My advice is to read either Satan in Goray or The Estate and the Manor together if you like Singer. Let us all forget about this awful clunker of a book - print or audio.
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Format: Paperback
When I.B. Singer is good he's one of the best writers of the 20th century. When he's bad he's as self-indulgent as his characters.
This sprawling book isn't sprawling because there's anything particularly deep or profound in its pages. Nothing much happens to the characters either. Instead it's sprawling in the same sense as Urban Sprawl. Singer allows his characters to whine incessantly about their lousy lot in life. Like The Estate (a much better book by far) his characters are great thinkers in many ways but utterly clueless about their own pettiness. They complain. They contemplate suicide. THey think deep thoughts about everyone around. They keep contemplating suicide long after the reader wants them dead and buried because then at least there'd be one less whiner.
The opening chapters have Anna and Grein running off together and forsaking their spouses. Pretty soon you realize that you are trapped with these two vindictive shrews and boredom sets in. Sadly after boredom comes nothing more than more boredom. Anna is superficial. Grein is a weakling. And on and on and on it goes. When other characters finally come into the frame you find them almost as tedious. They have been infected with the same malaise.
The one bright spot is Anna's first husband - a German comedian that came to America via Communist Russia and long thought dead. As soon as he enters the book you breathe a sigh of relief because at least this character is self-deprecating and able to laugh at himself. Unfortunately he disappears again in favor of an awful fake seance and he comes back rarely. The rest of the characters hate him with good reason - he's too good for them.
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By Atar Hadari on Sept. 19 2002
Format: Paperback
"Shadows on the Hudson", like Isaac Bashevis Singer, has passion, power and ultimately no faith in modern life. His lothario alter-ego Grein's adventure when he runs off with the married daughter of a friend, Anna, sends ripples through their whole social world, in which Singer paints the moral universe of post-war American Jewery. The Yeshiva trained doctor and friend of Anna's millionaire father takes back the German wife who left him for a Nazi. The Berlin Yiddish comedian Yasha Kotik, Anna's first husband, is beastly enough to survive both the death camps and Broadway. Grein's old Warsaw friend survived the camps to make a horrendous marriage with a battleaxe in Florida who tries to swindle Anna over real estate. ... But there is no escaping the sense of scenes written to a set word count, to be read on a subway train in slow columns from a smudging rag, and there is no escaping the sense of perfunctoriness at Singer's tying up of the loose threads at the end: Grein, like many of Singer's sinning alter-egos, winds up repenting, cutting off all links to his earthly life and loves, taking up Jewish study in a yeshiva. The rest he abandons, more or less moved on, no more resolved, because really the values Singer prized cannot exist for them. The penultimate line of the novel, in a letter from Grein's cell in Jerusalem: "There can be no connection between a bound animal and an animal that roams free." Singer was condemned to roam free, remembering a world that no longer exists and atoning for a family and life long gone, and this book does not return that world to us, though his wilder, more forlorn fiction does.
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