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Bernie repeated his assertion, still barely audible. Karp grew quiet, his hands beginning to worry the loosened knot of his tie. Karp cleared his throat. Some people got taxidermied pets in the attic, we got a frozen rabbi in the basement. It's a family tradition. Bernie retreated once again into silence, having been unaware that his family had any traditions. Then it was his sister Madeline's turn to be heard from. A voluptuous girl, exceedingly vain of her supernormal development, she condescended to inquire, "Like, um, what are you people talking about?

Wary of his sister, who may have suspected him of stealing her underwear, Bernie slumped in his chair, avoiding her eyes. His father seemed to do likewise, for Madeline's looks could be oppressive in the matte gray Karp household; while Bernie's mother, still playing with her food, offered acerbically, "He's from your father's side of the family; they were always superstitious. Karp's tone was defensive -- "that they handed down from generation to generation. Annoyed, Madeline pushed her chair from the table, blew at a wisp of primrose hair that fell instantly back into her eyes, and flounced resolutely out of the dining room.

Moments later a shriek was heard from down-stairs, and Mr. Heaving a sigh, Mr. Karp readjusted his glasses and got purposefully to his feet, departing the room just as Madeline emerged from the basement, her robust complexion gone deathly pale. Karp, squeezing past his busty daughter to reenter the dining room.

Karp was a joiner, an affiliate of local chapters of the Masons, the Lions, and the Elks, his enrollment dating from a time when Jews were not always welcome in such organizations. His prominence and civic-mindedness, however, had earned him the status of an honorary gentile. Karp handed a limp ledger book of the type in which accounts are kept to his son, who began indifferently thumbing the pages. Instead of figures, the pages were covered in an indecipherable script that resembled clef signs and fishhooks.

Problem is, he wrote it in Yiddish. Then he added somewhat apologetically, "He's supposed to bring luck. What kind of luck? Bernie wondered as he carried the ledger to his bedroom, a boneyard of aborted hobbies -- the unpainted husks of model cars, the broken clear plastic trunk of a Visible Man, a PlayStation gathering dust. Though his only real enthusiasms to date had been a fondness for overeating and his late penchant for erotic fantasy, he idly perused the ledger's scribbled pages.

Absolutely go out and support this author and wonderful publishing house and buy, read and enjoy The Froze A fantastic read - difficult to put down once you get going. Absolutely go out and support this author and wonderful publishing house and buy, read and enjoy The Frozen Rabbi. Jul 20, Erin rated it really liked it Shelves: I enjoyed the look at the family through time and would be glad to read more about Shmerl and Jocheved , and even liked the parts set in the present day. The ending, I must admit, rather lost me.

So I'm giving it 4 stars for all the rest of the story! Feb 05, Corey rated it it was amazing. View all 6 comments. Feb 11, J. I need to see Tennessee. Not as much as I need to visit Virginia, but Memphis is definitely a destination. A very good amount of the back story takes place in New York City as well as the traditional Jewish settlements in the Russian Pale and Eretz Israel, but the real action is in modern Memphis.

The Rabbi Eliezer ben Zephyr was in a state of transcendent meditation when his body was submerged and frozen by a freak storm.


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The only heirloom of the Karp family to survive the upheaval from Poland to America, the former Boibiczer Prodigy emerges from his suspended trance in new surroundings that are equal parts Gan Eydn and Gehenna. References to prominent Jewish texts and Yiddish terms abound, but Stern wields them with such fluency that they never become recondite. There are elements reminiscent not only of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay , as promised, but of Gentlemen of the Road as well.

She knows her books and her audience! This is not a book for the faint of heart; credit Steve Stern for writing the book he wanted to write, and credit Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill for publishing it. To be in such close proximity to both Tennessee and Virginia without the time to go to either state will be excruciating. If only I could learn to send my soul aloft, as Bernie and the Rabbi do, I could cover more states, mental and physical!

Jan 06, Amelia rated it it was ok Shelves: Amazon has never steered me wrong before, until now. And it's not to say that I hated this book, because I didn't. I just had a hard time getting along with it. I kept thinking I should put it down for good and read something else. While the characters are interesting, the plot leaves a lot to be desired.

It's like molasses running uphill in the middle of January in New England. The Frozen Rabbi could have been a lot shorter and a lot better. And there are some plot points that I won't mention Amazon has never steered me wrong before, until now. And there are some plot points that I won't mention because I'd rather not ruin it for those of you who do choose to read it that really made me question Steve Sterns literary prowess.

Not that he has any, I wouldn't know, this is the first work I've read by him. And while the first page was funny and grabbed me by the hair to pull me in, it just gradually started to let go after that. But, I soldiered on and finished it, disappointed by the way it ends. If you can even call it an ending. If you found this book in the sci-fi section, like I did, it's in the wrong place, unless you call a book about extreme Judaism Sci-Fi, which I don't, I call it a novel about Judaism.

And that's what it is. There is so much Yiddish- really old school Yiddish, that I couldn't even understand a decent amount of it.

Excerpt: 'The Frozen Rabbi'

Read at your own risk, and keep a Yiddish to English dictionary handy. And maybe a class of Brandy too, to help you through the slow parts. The really long slow parts. Man muss sich schon gut in dieser Religion auskennen, um alles zu verstehen. Keiner der Charaktere ist sympathisch und so wecken sie auch kaum Interesse. Wirklich schade, vom Klappentext her klang das Buch so gut! Jan 25, Sherry rated it really liked it Shelves: This book started out slowly. It wasn't until page that I was completely engaged and reading became effortless.

I found the ending disappointing. However, the middle of the book was very good. The story goes back and forth between the turn of the 20th century and the turn of the 21st century. A rabbi, frozen in deep meditation, is carted by a family to the new world where he remains in suspended animation until he is thawed by young Bernie Karp whose jewish family migrates to Memphis Tenness This book started out slowly.

A rabbi, frozen in deep meditation, is carted by a family to the new world where he remains in suspended animation until he is thawed by young Bernie Karp whose jewish family migrates to Memphis Tennessee in the s, keeping the rabbi in deep freeze in their basement. What I enjoyed about this book was the story of the jewish migration from Russia to New York and their life in New York at the turn of the 20th century.

Included is a wonderful tale of the beginning of the state of Israel. The stories are rich, the characters wonderfully funny and beautifully human. Implied is a metaphoric meaning: Dieses Buch bis zu Ende zu lesen war wirklich ein Qual. Feb 10, Randi Reisfeld rated it liked it. You don't have to be Jewish to enjoy The Frozen Rabbi -- but it sure would help. Even more if you know a bissel Yiddish, since it's sprinkled liberally throughout. The highly original premise is what drew me: He's in an "out of body" experience when the river overflows, drowns him and freezes, leaving the rabbi encased in a block of ice-perpetual preservation.

Said block of ice is adopted by You don't have to be Jewish to enjoy The Frozen Rabbi -- but it sure would help. Said block of ice is adopted by a family, which, through the generations, totes him from the old world to the new--where he's accidentally defrosted in present day Memphis, TN.

The book is cleverly written, hilarious at times, and following the lives of the family who adopted the rabbi is interesting -- for a while. Eventually, the old rebbe's adventures in new world, meant to satirize, become overly ridiculous, and I stopped caring. Not sure I'd recommend to any but die-hard yid-o-files. Aug 07, Neco Turkienicz rated it liked it. I began reading and was fascinated by the book very quickly. The story, the Jewish background, the Yiddish, all of it. The language was a bit challenging for me, english not being my mother tongue, but Stern's style kept me hooked almost until the end.

I would really give five stars to this book if it wasn't for the ending.

It felt to me as if Stern didn't know how to end the story, as if he was building up to something he couldn't define as he started writing. So he decided to trash it all, to I began reading and was fascinated by the book very quickly. So he decided to trash it all, to destroy the characters in what I saw as an evil way, as if he was fed up with them and just wanted to get rid of them all. When I love a book, I don't want it to end, but this book, towards the end, made me want to stop reading it. I kept reading because the first 3 quarters of it were so good, that I still hoped for a better resolution - but I was wrong.

Jul 19, Shirley added it Shelves: This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I'm uncertain how to rate this. The first page instantly captured my attention, and the first 90 percent held me enraptured, unable to put the book down as I took in the Karp family's travails and misfortunes over the century. There's quite a bit of Yiddish in this book, but it all more or less makes sense in context and I didn't feel particularly hindered by it. The action in this book barreled forward quickly, and I honestly found the stories of each new young member of the Karp clan as fascin I'm uncertain how to rate this.

The action in this book barreled forward quickly, and I honestly found the stories of each new young member of the Karp clan as fascinating as the last though Julius was the least interesting and sympathetic of the lot. However, the book suddenly changed gears and wound down to a sort of clunky and repulsive ending. All in all, it was a wonderful bizarre novel with a grossly disappointing ending that didn't feel very connected to the rest of the book. May 30, Tim Hicks rated it really liked it. That was just plain enjoyment. You'll laugh, you'll cry This is a densely-written book that rewards you for paying attention; don't take a month to read it.


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If you don't know any Yiddish, go read something else first, maybe some old MAD magazines or another author - but you won't need much, and most of the terms are spelled out or obvious in context. There are plenty of interesting characters of the "put them together and stand back to watch" kind. Your willingness to suspend disbelief will That was just plain enjoyment. Your willingness to suspend disbelief will be tested, but you never lose sight of the fact that it's just a story, so that's easy.

The ending was a bit weak, but not enough to spoil it all. I'm going to look for "The Angel of Forgetfulness" now, and I'll have a look at anything else Stern writes. Jun 20, Kristy Dallas Alley rated it really liked it. I felt different ways about this book at different times along the narrative. My favorite part was the story line about Jochaved and Schmerle; I looked forward to it during the Bernie interludes, and never really stopped missing it once the story moved on beyond their time.

The writing is funny and understated in all the right places. As a fellow Memphian, I felt a little insulted by the repeated references to lilacs, which do not grow here, and the idea that in we would have had a racist m I felt different ways about this book at different times along the narrative. As a fellow Memphian, I felt a little insulted by the repeated references to lilacs, which do not grow here, and the idea that in we would have had a racist mayor grumbling about improper mixing.

We elected our first black mayor in ! I also still am not sure how I feel about the ending. Overall, though, it was an enjoyable read. Jan 17, Linda rated it did not like it. I still can not figure out why I bothered to finish this book. It was truly awful.

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Every character was horrible without a single redeeming characteristic. I am fairly certain the author wanted to make some sort of lofty point, but after reading the entire book, I can't figure out what that could be. Another thing, if you don't have a fluent Yiddish vocabulary, you will miss a lot, because appa I still can not figure out why I bothered to finish this book. Another thing, if you don't have a fluent Yiddish vocabulary, you will miss a lot, because apparently even though this book is written in English by an American, a major portion of the book is written with Yiddish in almost every sentence.

Oct 07, Becca rated it it was ok. Two and a half stars. I generally love multi-generational storytelling, but this was a time where it didn't work. Every time I grew attached to a character, that character would be swapped out for a younger relative, resulting in a watered down portrait of the Karp clan. If this had been solely a story about a boy and his defrosted rabbi, it may have succeeded as a comic satire, but by interweaving that story with tales of the young Bernie's predecessors, Stern weakened all the plotlines.

Sep 14, Bruddahbob rated it it was amazing. It was a plus that I wanted to increase my vocabulary of Yiddish and had a good translation website. Stern covered some much history in pages, it made me wonder what Herman Wouk was doing with the 50, pages he published.

Review: The Frozen Rabbi, by Steve Stern - The Globe and Mail

Very eclectic, well-written, intelligent, and funny. May 17, Scott Federman rated it really liked it. I would have given it 5 stars but there was so much Yiddish that even I had to look some meanings up. I only have a basic knowledge of Yiddish and am not fluent. It is worth reading even if you miss some of the meanings. The author is very skilled at taking you back in time and then returning the reader to the future.

In short, this is a well written great story. May 18, Gail Berna-Dompke rated it liked it. The trials and tribulations of a rabbi encased in ice. Although I really enjoyed Jochaved's story, the book was longer than it needed to be. I learned many new words in Yiddish however, and was introduced to Jewish mysticism of which I was completely unaware. Sep 17, Nancy rated it did not like it. Maybe it was a cute idea. Unfortunately there's a comma in the first sentence of almost every paragraph. Maybe I'm nitpicking but it's Exhausting.

So I never made it to the part where I cared about any of the characters. Jun 07, Brenna rated it it was ok. I regret the time I spent reading this book instead of others. Jan 24, Sarah Sammis rated it liked it Recommended to Sarah by: I'm glad I finally read it.

The Globe and Mail

There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Stern was born in Memphis, Tennessee in , the son of a grocer. He left Memphis in the s to attend college, then to travel the US and Europe — living, as he told one interviewer, "the wayward life of my generation for about a decade," and ending on a hippie commune in the Ozarks.

He went on to study writing in the graduate program at the University of Arkansas, at a time when it included se Stern was born in Memphis, Tennessee in , the son of a grocer.