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.