Wrestling With Angels: New and Col­lect­ed Stories

  • Review
By – December 12, 2011

This book is a uni­fi­ca­tion of two pre­vi­ous col­lec­tions of short sto­ries by Clay­ton, plus a new col­lec­tion and a few sto­ries that, accord­ing to the author’s pref­ace, did not seem to quite belong to any of the three col­lec­tions. The sto­ries all have two things in com­mon: Jew­ish themes, and a tone that is pow­er­ful and under­stand­ing, yet intense­ly melan­choly. One thing does seem to have changed between the old­er sto­ries in the books and those in the new col­lec­tion, Wrestling with Angels. The lat­ter show a much greater ten­den­cy toward hap­py end­ings. Where­as the old­er sto­ries usu­al­ly hold on to their grav­i­ty through­out, most of the new ones light­en near the end, some­times even break­ing away sharply from the tone they had had before. Whether this is a new weak­ness in the author’s writ­ing or an over­all improve­ment, it is cer­tain­ly refresh­ing after the often oppres­sive heav­i­ness of the old­er sto­ries. Over­all, this is a selec­tion of well-writ­ten and inter­est­ing sto­ries, best tak­en one at a time.

Noah Beit-Aharon lives in Waltham, MA, and is a mem­ber of Tem­ple Beth Israel in Waltham. The first two install­ments of his Jew­ish-inspired epic fan­ta­sy series God­serfs, pub­lished under the pen name N. S. Dolka­rt, are avail­able in paper­back from Angry Robot Books.

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