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"Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money."
Louis Untermeyer

The Tribe

By Bari Wood
Signet, 339 pp, 1981

When I started reading this book, I got the sneaky feeling that I had read it before. It's about Jewish survivors of a Nazi death camp, how they survived, and how they're up to their same tactics in present-day (1980) New York City and Long Island. I won't give away what that is about, thought it's probably well-known by now, since the book's been out over twenty years.

After I finished it, I realized I had read it before, maybe fifteen years ago, and I didn't remember much of it. So reading it this time was like the first time.

But enough of that. About the book. It's okay. Nothing superb. The book's jacket trumps it as "a darkly brilliant novel of horror." That's overblown, and besides, if it were really that good, it wouldn't need to be proclaimed on the cover.

But the book is well-written, with some fine imagery. There is not enough suspense or horror, though. Way too much back story for my taste, especially when much of it didn't have much to do with the story. But the book was interesting since it deals with something I don't know much about, Jewish mysticism. It also has a feminist undercurrent, with one of the protagonists quietly questioning and rebelling against many aspects of Judaism, as practiced by those close to her.

Bari Wood wrote a few other novels, in the late 1970s I think, and I may look those up at the library. I don't think she's around anymore. I wonder what happened to her? If you know, please fill me in.

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