By Miriam Karmel
(Milkweed Editions, Hardcover, 9781571310965, 208pp.)
Publication Date: March 2013
List Price: $22.00*
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"Growing old is one of the most surprising things that has happened to her. She hadn't given it any thought. Then one day, she was eighty-five. Not just old, but an object of derision, pity. Is there any use explaining that she is still herselfalbeit a slower, achier, creakier version of the original?"
from Being Esther
Being Esther intimately explores the interior consciousness of an elderly Jewish woman who lives as much in the past as in the present.
Whereas the past includes pleasant memories of family, love and lust, the happy confines of marriage, and the rare occasions to break those confineslike taking a part-time job as a bookseller at Kroch's & Brentano'sthe present includes crossing out the names of the deceased in a phonebook, fending off attempts by her daughter to move into assisted living, daily check-ins with a neighbor, and the occasional outing. Not prone to self-pity, Esther is at moments lucid and then suddenly lost in a world which has disappeared along with many who had inhabited it.
Miriam Karmel's fiction debut brings understanding and tremendous empathy to the character of Esther Lustig, a woman who readers will not soon forget.