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From the author of the critically acclaimed story collection How This Night Is Different comes a dark, arresting, fearlessly funny story of one young woman's terminal illness. In The Book of Dahlia, Elisa Albert walks a dazzling line between gravitas and irreverence, mining an exhilarating blend of skepticism and curiosity, compassion and candor, high and low culture. Meet Dahlia Finger: twenty-nine, depressed, whip-smart, occasionally affable, bracingly honest, resolutely single, and perennially unemployed. She spends her days stoned in front of the TV, watching the same movies repeatedly, like "a form of prayer." But Dahlia's so-called life is upended by an aggressive, inoperable brain tumor. Stunned and uncomprehending, Dahlia must work toward reluctant emotional reckoning with the aid of a questionable self-help guide. She obsessively revisits the myriad heartbreaks, disappointments, rages, and regrets that comprise the story of her life -- from her parents' haphazard Israeli courtship to her kibbutz conception; from the role of beloved daughter and little sister to that of abandoned, suicidal adolescent; from an affluent childhood in Los Angeles to an aimless existence in the gentrified wilds of Brooklyn; from a girl with "options" to a girl with none -- convinced that cancer struck because she herself is somehow at fault. With her take-no-prisoners perspective, her depressive humor, and her extreme vulnerability, Dahlia Finger is an unforgettable anti-heroine. This staggering portrait of one young woman's life and death confirms Elisa Albert as a "witty, incisive" (Variety) and even "wonder-inducing" writer (Time Out New York).
Relationships with our siblings stretch, as an old saying has it, all the way from the cradle to the grave. Few bonds in life are as significant, as formative, as lasting, and as frequently overlooked as those we share with our brothers and sisters. In this stellar, first-of-its-kind anthology, contemporary writers explore the rich and varied landscape of sibling experience, illuminating the essential, occasionally wonderful, often difficult ways our brothers and sisters--or lack thereof--shape us. There are those who love and cherish their siblings, those who abhor and avoid them, and everyone in between.
Elisa Albert's debut story collection marks the arrival of an extraordinary new voice in fiction. In How This Night Is Different, Albert boldly illuminates the struggles of young, disaffected Jews to find spiritual fulfillment. With wit and wisdom, she confronts themes -- self-deprecation, stressful family relationships, sex, mortality -- that have been hallmarks of her literary predecessors. But Albert brings a decidedly fresh, iconoclastic, twenty-first-century attitude to the table. Holidays, gatherings, and rites of passage provide the backdrop for these ten provocative stories. The characters who populate How This Night Is Different are ambivalent, jaded, and in serious want of connection. As they go through the motions of familial duty and religious observance, they find themselves continually longing for more. In prose that is by turns hilarious and harrowing, Albert details the quest for acceptance, a happier view of the past, and above all the possibility of a future. From the hormonally charged concentration camp teen tour in "The Living" to the sexually frustrated young mother who regresses to bat mitzvah-aged antics in "Everything But," and culminating with the powerful and uproariously apropos finale of "Etta or Bessie or Dora or Rose," How This Night Is Different is sure to titillate, charm, and profoundly resonate with anyone who's ever felt conflicted about his or her faith, culture, or place in the world.
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