Sunday, September 8, 2019

At the Old Wooden Synagogue on Janower Street, by Michael Libling

★★★☆☆ Not really speculative fiction, but a very strong story

(Mainstream) Ben’s family all died in the Holocaust, so he’s astonished to see them turn up in his diner in 1960. (2,403 words; Time: 08m)

Recommended By: πŸ‘STomaino+1 (Q&A)

Mike has a deeply moving companion piece to the following story on his website. How a Comic Book Ad Taught Me about the Holocaust

"At the Old Wooden Synagogue on Janower Street," by (edited by Sheila Williams), appeared in issue 09-10|19, published on by .

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

Review: 2019.496 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: From the opening paragraphs, we know that these visitors from the past are dead. The only question is what they’re doing there.

The story has to be taking place around 1960, since the Holocaust started in 1941 and Ben/Berko had to have time to leave Poland, get to America, get married, and have a kid who’s at least 16. The Buick Roadmaster fits nicely in that timeline.

The description of Ben’s escape does seem miraculous. But when we get to the last part of the story, and Ben remarks on how hot it is, and he looks around and sees no one but his father, we realize that the story isn’t really happening in 1960. It’s 1941 and the rest has just been young Ben’s fantasy—right before he died.

Con: Although it’s very moving, there’s no actual speculative element to the story.

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Michael Libling Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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