PRINT May 1988


The Magician’s Wife

JEROME CHARYN'S FICTION, FOR those unfortunate enough not to have read it, ranges from tales of childhood in the Bronx to a thriller—in the esthetic as well as in the literary-genre sense—about a Jewish homicide detective soured by the tapeworm of unrequited love. Much of it comprises a personal view of the city in which Charyn was born and raised, and in which we remain strangers and tourists until we die. This is a speedy, lyrical fiction, brutal and romantic. When it hits, it’s like reading Lewis Carroll and Louis-Ferdinand Céline while riding a steeplechase, but you soon come to see that beside you, on a parallel track, is the stalking horse of Charyn’s fiction, the sad nag of the longings and memories of childhood. His stories are peopled by children young and old—imbeciles, idiot savants, wild women with the emotional disposition of a child of eight, grown men who have never left

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