"Mrs. Snapples drew a white chalk line from one end of the chalkboard to the other. God, how I adored her. I was sure we would get married, have ten, maybe twenty babies, just as soon as I finished third grade, got a job, and could afford to get babies delivered from wherever one orders them."
At a slim one hundred pages, Jeffrey Feingold's Black Hole Pastrami - Stories is a big-hearted little gem of a book. These sixteen expertly crafted and entertaining stories are about normal everyday family life with all its laughs, smiles, and tears. I loved each and every one.
I received a drc from the publisher via NetGalley. Many thanks.
I definitely seek short stories collections out in Netgalley (as well as my library, but that’s another story) and always give them a chance. That’s how I discovered the Black Hole Pastrami by Jeffrey M. Feingold. I didn’t like the book cover, but the Jewish side of the stories, as well as the promise of humor and family really appealed to me.
It’s a very short collection of 16 very short stories. Some are nothing more than anecdotes from (I believe) his own family, the kind that get passed down to the kids with some imprecise recollection and lots of myth-building uncertainty. Remember your aunt so-and-so? She used to do this quirky thing or another… When taken together, it feels like the heart-warming picture of a post-war Jewish Eastern European community and a boy growing up in this context before marrying, getting kids of his own and then losing parents.
Some stories are bittersweet. Some stories are hilarious, notably the one when the narrator goes to Russia to try and adopt a child. Bruce Willis gets an appearance (now that’s a teaser for you). I read those stories as an homage to Feingold’s family and as a reflection of a man hitting middle age, looking back at his own life and processing the loss of those ageing relatives. You should not expect literary fireworks in this collection, instead the stories are pretty straightforward and satisfying.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley. I received a free copy of this book for review consideration.
This is a delightful collection of linked stories. While reading them, you might feel like you are having a laugh, remembering an embarrassing childhood memory, or thinking about how frustrating it might be to adopt a child from a foreign country, but each one is layered with a range of insight and emotions that you don’t realize you’ll be thinking about later.
Feingold has a gift for writing memory. The tales all sound autobiographical but they nudge out the humanity and memory in all of us. The stories written from a child’s viewpoint are not simple. One, a story of a third grader in love with his teacher, at first humorous, tackles belief and infinity. Another is about a child who is mortified by his aunt who always steals the sugar packets from the diner when they go out to eat. (Who doesn’t have such a relative?) But it is the backstory of why she does this that makes it poignant. In the father-son stories, the firmly planted roots of the importance of family leap off the page.
The title story is about a vegetarian son who goes to a deli to buy his dying father his favorite sandwich —a black pastrami on rye with extra mustard. This task becomes a reflection on the helplessness we feel in life.
While I would not say each story has a message, they reach for retrieving memory, understanding the tentativeness of life, and the power of love..
The writing style draws you in. I really didn’t want to let the characters go. I think I may read it again.
These are true to life tales that are high on the believability meter. We have all experienced something like this author. There is a bit of a snark wit. I do love me some snark. With toast and jam. You can tiptoe through these blooms in one sitting. Enjoy the dance. My thanks to the author and NetGalley for a complimentaryy copy of this book.
Even though I love reading short stories, I often don't finish contemporary ones that I start to read in books or magazines or in contest winners announcements. The stories tend to be too odd or too obscene or too "literary" . . . or at least they are trying to be "literary". Fortunately, Jeffrey Feingold writes the normal type of short stories I like to read. Many readers born in the two decades after WWII will understand and recognize what he is writing about, and what messages he is sending in his stories.
Messages about longing for the traditions and family gatherings so abundant in childhood, but so missing in adulthood. Older generations have died out and there are few or no one left. Many readers will also appreciate and identify with the author's sense of humor, especially the humor shown in the story about adopting a baby in Russia. Did you know all the female doctors in Russia look like they have stepped out of a James Bond movie? Or that Mr. Feingold looks like Bruce Willis?
(Note: I received a free e-ARC of this book from NetGalley and the author or publisher.)
Very short read full of very short stories. Coming from a Ukrainian Jewish background who migrated to Boston made me pick this one up. However, there weren't too many relatable aspects (probably due to our age difference.)
Still the stories were quirky and enjoyable.
Thank you, Netgalley, publisher, and author for the ARC.
The one of the best ways to test a writer's skills is to check their short stories. Within a limited number of pages, the author must introduce a character, build a community, craft a story and catch the read quickly or the story bombs. There are no bombs in Jeffrey Feingold's Black Hole Pastrami. Each story atrats with a thought that could easily have come to one of the readers as they sat watching the world go by. But Feingold took that thought and ran with it to a conclusion, and a good conclusion at that. I was absolutely delighted that I trusted the friend that recommended his book. I'd recommend to anyone who loves short stories or has those times when you don't want to start a longer title. This book is perfect for you.
I received a complimentary electronic ARC of this collection of short stories from Netgalley, author Jeffrey Feingold, and publisher The Pinch Literary Journal. I have read The Black Pastromi and Other Stories of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work. I am pleased to add Jeffrey Feingold to my favorite authors and recommend his work to friends and family. This is timely - our storyteller is a first-generation American in a Jewish family who immigrated from Ukraine, and the central theme of these tales is family unity. He will keep you chuckling.
I loved these short stories - each with something different to ponder. Jeffrey Feingold is a keeper. If you fondly remember a 1950s childhood, several of these stories will take you right back to WWII reenactments, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and Koolaide. If you weren't around in the 1950s you will appreciate this look into the impressive imaginations of our generation. I hope.
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book in return for an honest review.
This collection of short stories includes themes of childhood, illness, divorce, death and remorse. To be honest, I was going to stop after the first few stories as they were a bit gloomy. However, the mood picked up and became reflections on the poignancy and joys of life. The stories were previously published as separate pieces, but gathered together they are a compendium of a blue-eyed blond Ukrainian Jew growing up in Boston.
The humor is mostly subtle, and I enjoyed most of the stories. My favorite was “The Sugar Thief,” aka Aunt Millie. Although married to a successful businessman, having homes in Boston and Florida, and drives a Cadillac, Aunt Millie steals all the sugar packets when dining out. Who knows when you will need them? The author explains how in his youth he found this embarrassing, but is now melancholy about the people who are no longer here. We probably all have an Aunt Millie in our past, and small reminders of those we loved and now miss.
The narrative writing is engaging and clearly tells a story, but I did feel some of the endings were a bit abrupt. This was a pleasant read, and by the end I was wishing for more.