Cohen explores the theme of dislocation in his debut collection of short stories. The structure of the stories reflects the content: Cohen drops readers in the middle of the action and then provides some signposts to guide them out. His post-Shoah world constantly shifts, and even language lacks permanence. Cohen presents wordless books and Torah scrolls inked in the air, the suicide note of a collector of aphorisms and some words of a language that died with its last speaker, a bed salesman. The characters inspire curiosity, but Cohen’s writerly distance prevents the development of emotional connections to them.
Martha Sparks is a Ph.D. student in clinical psychology. She lives and studies in New Jersey.