The Pret­ty Girl: Novel­la and Stories

  • Review
By – April 27, 2012
Debra Spark’s The Pret­ty Girl con­sists of the title novel­la and six short sto­ries, all bold and sur­pris­ing, all sly­ly humor­ous, all res­o­nant with deep mul­ti-gen­er­a­tional wisdom.The novel­la is basi­cal­ly a mys­tery sto­ry about a paint­ing that hangs in the home of an aging great-aunt, and its place in the fam­i­ly. It’s also about a lot else, includ­ing the deep plea­sures and occa­sion­al exas­per­a­tions of sis­ter­ly love, end-of-life issues that threat­en to rup­ture a fam­i­ly, a pas­sion­ate love affair, an unex­pect­ed preg­nan­cy.

The six short sto­ries vary wide­ly in sub­ject mat­ter: a bril­liant graph­ic novelist’s trag­ic descent into mad­ness, an unhap­pi­ly mar­ried couple’s recon­nec­tion with a bizarre friend. In A Wed­ding Sto­ry,” the final piece, we meet the irre­press­ible five-inch Simon Baal Shem who, as young Rachel Ruben­stein sad­ly dis­man­tles the con­tents of her grandmother’s apart­ment after her recent death, offers up cogent life lessons through his wealth of Jew­ish folk tales. 
Judith Felsen­feld book of short fic­tion, Blaustein’s Kiss, was pub­lished in April, 2014. Her sto­ries have appeared in numer­ous mag­a­zines and lit­er­ary reviews, includ­ing The Chica­go Review, The South­west Review, Blue Mesa, and broad­cast nation­wide on NPR’s Select­ed Shorts.

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