The Angel of Forgetfulness

  • From the Publisher
June 17, 2014
When Steve Stern appeared on the lit­er­ary scene The New York Times Book Review hailed him as a prodi­gious­ly tal­ent­ed writer who arrives unher­ald­ed like one of the appari­tions in his own sto­ries.” In his new nov­el, The Angel of For­get­ful­ness, he inter­weaves three sto­ries about char­ac­ters who take flight from their ordi­nary lives and are plunged into extra­or­di­nary cir­cum­stances. At the cen­ter of it all is an unfin­ished man­u­script — an adven­ture about a fall­en angel named Mocky and his half-mor­tal son Nach­man, who both take up res­i­dence on the Low­er East Side of New York cir­ca 1900. Their sto­ry has been writ­ten by Nathan Hart, a timid proof­read­er for The Jew­ish Dai­ly For­ward, who woos a young woman named Keni with his exot­ic tale. Seduced by the pow­er of his own imag­i­na­tion, Nathan is drawn deliri­ous­ly away from Keni into the world of his sto­ry, the Jew­ish under­world of arson­ists, horse poi­son­ers, and thieves. More than half a cen­tu­ry lat­er, Keni, on her deathbed, gives Nathan’s now-tat­tered man­u­script to her young nephew, Saul, with the injunc­tion that Saul com­plete the sto­ry him­self. Saul’s eva­sion of the task prompts a jour­ney into the cru­cible of the six­ties, one fueled by sex, drugs, and the dust of a golem in the attic of a medieval syn­a­gogue in Prague.

Dex­ter­ous­ly jug­gling the nar­ra­tives of Saul, Nathan, Mocky, and Nach­man until they all merge in the nov­el­’s sat­is­fy­ing close, Stern has cre­at­ed a mag­i­cal tour de force of the sto­ry­teller’s art, one that cel­e­brates the tur­bu­lent romance between past and present, art and obsession.

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