The Saviour Shoes and Other Stories

Inanna Publications  2014


There are many books based on experiences of Jewish children and adolescents during the Holocaust, biographical and fictional, and, like this book, some are an amalgamation of both, but this one is particularly fine. Lipszyc can take a story gained through a retelling or an interview, then pace it and reframe it so that prose becomes poetry in her writing, sometimes leaving the reader breathless. Even deadly reality becomes slightly mystical and is made graceful by her telling. Through the forests, in the ghettos, within the devastation and horror, how does she find a sort of poetry? From The Singers on Grodzka Street: “At the end of the tunnel, in the open, near the pots of burning coals, stood bagel peddlers eager to sell their hot rings of bread sprinkled with poppy seed or salt . . . .beggars who arrived at the scene chanting their pleas for groschen in an unending chain of lament.” In Merchants of Mercy, even while talking about the trials of begging in the ghetto, the children who have been subject to the police, to bullies, to the division of food after each one has begged, to the loss of a companion who has been shot, remind her of a discarded picture that resembles their threesome, as they were before. She picks it up and digs at the burial site, burying the picture there; a memorial. The mother’s tragedy in the Death Watcher is unforgettable, as is the peace and hope for the future, in Verses for My Priest. These stories do not dwell in one country or in one type of locale; this book defies such characterizations. The tales are valid, but seldom literal. They roam the ghettos, the camps and the forest. Beautifully told heartbreaking short stories that are totally compelling, they are taken from a variety of situations and locales.

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