Monday, February 20, 2017

Sabbath Wine, by Barbara Krasnoff

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(Modern Fantasy) Malka is a little Jewish girl living in Brooklyn in 1920. She likes her new friend, David, even though he’s older than her, black, Christian, and claims to be dead. (6,843 words; Time: 22m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Beautifully detailed and deeply moving
Recommended By: Nebula

"," by (edited by Mike Allen), appeared in issue 5, published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: The story’s greatest strength is how it evokes Prohibition-era Brooklyn and the feelings of a non-observant Jewish-American immigrant. In the course of his trying to organize a Sabbath dinner for Malka, Abe becomes a three-dimensional character.

The interaction between Abe and Sam in his store is a tense moment, since the racial hostility is strong, but also because we're wondering how Sam will react to Abe claiming to have seen David. All the way to the point where the two men talk alone at the dinner, it's still possible to imagine that "being dead" is just a game David plays.

On the other hand, from the moment when Malka touches David and he's real to her, we suspect that she's a ghost too. Her reaction inside the synagogue (where she’s invisible to the rabbi), where she worries about places to hide, strengthens that a lot. David's worry about being seen looking at a white woman mirrors it. These hints as to how the children died make the eventual revelations much stronger.

There’s also a metaphorical sense to the story, in that we do carry the ghosts of our loved ones with us in our vivid memories of them.

Con: The plot is extremely simple: get wine for a Sabbath dinner. The two men are unable to move past their personal tragedies, and they make no progress in this story.

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Barbara Krasnoff Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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