Johanna Kaplan's stories first burst on the literary scene in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Today they have retained heir simultaneously scathing, hilarious, and compassionate insight into character and behavior. From Miriam, home from school with the measles, to Louise, the daughter of a family that fled Vienna for the Dominican Republic, to Naomi, a young psychiatrist, her heroines are fierce, tender, funny, and cuttingly smart.
A freshly titled, slightly expanded edition of Other People’s Lives. Reissued as part of Ecco’s 'Art of the Story' series, it comes enticingly packaged with a preface by Francine Prose and cover design by Maira Kalman ... Loss of Memory Is Only Temporary provides an opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with her work, which vividly captures the push and pull between what she calls 'the stunned remnant Jews of Europe . . . trickling into grief-pierced American freedom' in the wake of World War II and their more established relatives and neighbors ... Her stories and novel are animated by passionate arguments about what constitutes a meaningful life ... The most salient quality of Ms. Kaplan’s writing is her remarkable ear for voice, from the charmingly mangled locutions of non-native speakers to the cynical bite of adolescents ... Ms. Kaplan’s characters are better talkers than listeners. They yammer over each other, their dialogue overlapping to create a controlled commotion that demands close attention ... It is a lot...to take in...(The long harangues might have benefited from some judicious editing) ... Several of these narratives offer assurance that Ms. Kaplan’s ornery outsiders find a place for themselves in the world ... Readers, too, can learn much from Ms. Kaplan ... This is fiction of complexity and depth.
The latest addition to Ecco’s eclectic and reliably rewarding 'Art of the Story' series revives Kaplan’s Jewish Book Award–winning 1975 collection Other People’s Lives, now with two more essays. Dropping readers into those lives as they unfold in all their messy, egoistic imperfection, Kaplan offers sly glimpses of human foibles and vulnerabilities, often through the penetrating eyes of young misfits ... Francine Prose’s preface aptly praises Kaplan’s 'paradoxically scathing and compassionate insight' into characters revealed in the midst of an uncertain present, poised between Old World and New. A rare gem, recovered.
This reissue seems likely to find [Kaplan] a new set of fans. A warm introduction by Francine Prose alerts us to the joys of Kaplan's stories ... Though some situations feel dated, snarky young ladies are timeless. Plus, the dialogue is to die for.