In the Mouth: Sto­ries and Novellas

  • Review
By – January 27, 2012

It is a nat­ur­al ten­den­cy when read­ing a book of short sto­ries to try to con­nect the sto­ries in some way, to find a cohe­sive thread. In this col­lec­tion, there are two such themes: Jew­ish cul­ture and sex. 

The sto­ry Bris” is par­tic­u­lar­ly intrigu­ing in that it deals with aspects of Jew­ish­ness that are usu­al­ly tak­en for grant­ed. Here is the tale of John Sloane, who says he is Jew­ish and is accept­ed as such. John Sloane? Is this a name for a Jew? We dis­cov­er, late, that he was raised as a Chris­t­ian, fell in love with a Jew, and act­ed Jew­ish all his life. As he nears death, he reveals to his son that he has nev­er been cir­cum­cised. This has affect­ed his life and now, his immi­nent death. Mar­cus, the son, comes to real­ize that pre­tend­ing is eas­i­er than being and that fam­i­lies are what they are. 

Beached in Boca” is anoth­er sto­ry of an old­er par­ent being vis­it­ed by his estranged child in a time of ill­ness. Wendy was raised to think her par­ents would always be there to help. Now, her moth­er is dead and her elder­ly father has AIDS. She slow­ly real­izes that she wants it to be her turn but has no idea how to accom­plish this. 

This is an inter­est­ing book to share with your par­ent or child.

Erin Can­tor is an inte­ri­or design­er, teacher of read­ing and math to third-graders, and a returned Peace Corps volunteer.

Discussion Questions