Last Car Over the Sag­amore Bridge

  • Review
By – May 13, 2013

In Last Car Over the Sag­amore Bridge, once again Peter Orner has pro­duced a mas­ter­ful and com­pelling col­lec­tion of short sto­ries. Some of the sto­ries are no longer than one page, some con­tin­ue for ten pages and sev­er­al sto­ries refer to the same char­ac­ter, Horace Gins­burg, a Mad­off-like scam­ster who lost his own for­tune as well as those of his much less suc­cess­ful rel­a­tives. He appears as a ghost to his nephew in one sto­ry, unre­pen­tant and gloat­ing. There are refugees in sto­ries who strug­gle to accli­mate to Amer­i­ca. There is a Richard Daley-like char­ac­ter who ruins him­self and his city. There is even a sto­ry in which a wealthy young man who owns a build­ing in which he allows his ten­ants to live rent-free, thinks of a cre­ative way to change his sit­u­a­tion with­out dis­turb­ing any­one. The repet­i­tive motif in the sto­ries is that of the lon­er. The char­ac­ters look for con­nec­tion and vibran­cy in their lives and almost always fail. In a one-page sto­ry, a blind, old poet who can no longer read or remem­ber his poet­ry is dragged out to recite for an audi­ence that vague­ly re­members him as an impor­tant lit­er­ary fig­ure. He recites, Why can’t our dreams be con­tent with the ter­ri­ble facts?” This ques­tion serves as a theme for the entire collection.

Suri Boiangiu recent­ly semi-retired from the posi­tion of assis­tant prin­ci­pal at an all-girls high school. She has either been an admin­is­tra­tor or taught Eng­lish at Yeshiv­ah of Flat­bush and Magen David High School. She loves read­ing mod­ern fic­tion, or any fic­tion, and Ama­zon knows her by her first name.

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