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Text Box:     Praise for George DiGuido
     — Kimberly, Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance
            Rating: 4 cups

           The Tuareg - Blue Man of the Sahara
          By George DiGuido
            Vivisphere Publishing, June 20, 2009 / Paperback / $22.95 / 422 pages, Historical Romance

   Praise for John J. Clayton 

     — October 10, 2007, The Forward, by Joshua Cohen, literary critic

    Wrestling With Angels: New and Collected Stories
    By John J. Clayton
    The Toby Press, 616 pages

    Kuperman’s Fire
    By John J. Clayton
    The Permanent Press, 304 pages

  The Forward offers an in-depth review of John Clayton, a commentary that underscores the significance of his books and distinguishes 
   John as an important Jewish writer. Reviewer, Joshua Cohen, compares Clayton with Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud, and Philip Roth —  
   high honor and rightfully deserved. Full text of Joshua Cohen’s review: http:www.forward.com/articles/11771. Below, brief excerpt: 
  Born in New York in 1935, novelist and storywriter John J. Clayton (his family name formerly Cohon) seems the perfect elder rabbi for 
   these prodigals. He is American Jewish literature’s great baal teshuvah: a Hebrew term that characterizes a revolutionary or 
   counterrevolutionary  reversion to Olde Time Religion but translates, literally and literarily, as “a master of repentance.”  

  Throughout his work Clayton’s middle-class American Jewish characters reveal themselves as us: as Jews concerned with the genocides 
  of  others; as Jews concerned with the processes by which we might sustain kosher life; as Jews suspicious of institutional loyalty at the 
  expense of  inspiration or “soul”— and so, as Jews who have become involved with protesting the murder in Darfur; as Jews who have 
  become involved with environmentalism and with vegetarianism; and as Jews who have lately forsaken exclusive affiliations with 
  Conservative or Reform Judaism, allowing Hasidim to grow from a minor Russian cult into a dominant mode of American Jewish life. 
   “I hope for Jewish and non-Jewish readers; but I speak as a Jew.”
 
  Ultimately, such a summation has to shock; midcentury assimilationists must be awed in response — among them Clayton’s colleagues 
  Saul Bellow and Bernard Malamud (“May their memories be for a blessing”) and the still-living, still-writing Philip Roth. 

  This generous story volume appears a summer after the release of the author’s guileless third novel, “Kuperman’s Fire.” If 2007 is very 
  much a retrospective year for Clayton himself, then what its two publishing seasons have given us, in these two books, is nothing less than 
  a strange retrospective-in-advance — of what it might mean to be artistically Born Again into the oldest of Covenants.

  We begin with the stories, the majority being culled from three books, two of which have previously appeared: “Bodies of the Rich” (1984) 
  was a tense and tenebrous debut, its author concerned with sex, relationships, altered mind-states and alternative politics; “Radiance” 
  followed (1998), and the diction became lightly conventional, though the heart sadder, theologically expansive; finally, “Wrestling With 
  Angels” a wholly new collection, crowns at volume’s end. Its tone is, without doubt, majestic, if also religiously pathetic. The story 
  “Cambridge Is Sinking!” is Clayton’s best (written in 1972, it went unpublished in book form for a decade), and it gives you an idea of what 
  its author was smoking early on.

  By the time Clayton’s next collection came along, more than a decade later, a new transcendence was in the air, that titular “Radiance” —
  not a spirit of pushing boundaries, but of erecting them, or of learning to live with them.

  Soon Clayton stopped innovating formally and began writing, instead, homiletic and pious prose that would alternate between insight 
  and pedantic embarrassment: “The rabbis are said to have built a fence around the Torah, the ten thousand distinctions — koshering 
  your kitchen, standing up to honor the Torah -- that can preserve holiness, be bridges to holiness. But they can also be debased into marks 
  of a club, a club that separates us from each other and from God.” 

  Whichever separation, whether it’s a personal separation of the sacred within from the secular without, or a public separation of the 
  faithful minyans from the Godless minions, Clayton throughout the 1980s and 1990s separated himself: He became a writer of what has 
  to be called, despite its universal skill, “community fiction.” While readership for Yiddish literature after the Holocaust was small, and
  lessening daily, Yiddish’s greatest authors didn’t do anything, and understandably didn’t want to do anything, to make it any smaller. 
  But Clayton, writing in English, knowingly limits his readership, has the freedom to limit his readership — and seems to think that, 
  emulating God, in limitation is to be found great purity of idea, or expression. This obsession with purity comes through most clearly in
   “Kuperman’s Fire,” a novel that begins as a story of spirituality’s late or Last Days resurgence and ends as an inspirational thriller.

  According to Clayton-cum-Cohon-cum-Cooper-cum-Kuperman, the legacy of all Jewish suffering is the directive to do right at all costs. 
  Being spiritual means, today, “being Brooklyn.” It is impossible that such a mass return to religion or race identity could mean anything 
  more than sentiment, or nostalgia. Individuals are communities of one, religions of one, and writers were once the great individuals. 
          — Joshua Cohen is a literary critic for The Forward  (October 10, 2007) -  Accolades continued,  click here:  Accolades Continue#

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