Academic journal article Shofar

Reunion, by Sam Bluefarb

Academic journal article Shofar

Reunion, by Sam Bluefarb

Article excerpt

Reunion, by Sam Bluefarb

Sam Bluefarb, in his novel Reunion, has rendered a specific era from the late 40s through the early 70s. His semi-autobiographical novel captures the feel of World War II, the academic humanities scene in southern California, and a significant and heart-rending love affair -- bittersweet, ecstatic at times, and painful. Bluefarb's first flashback, in "The Voyage and Out," begins in October 1948; his last chapter, in the section called "The Reunion," is dated September 1970.

Protagonist Dan Hellman and Kathy from Bombay are two young, fairly assimilated Jews who meet and fall in love. Bluefarb starts his novel in journal form with midsummer 1970 -- the reunion of Kathy and Dan after a hiatus of 20 years. Then in a series of flashbacks -- also in journal form -- he reconstructs momentous events in the lives of the star-crossed lovers. Along the way are echoes not only of Romeo and Juliet, but also of Henry James and Edith Wharton.

Also along the way one gets a sense of the American Depression, the coping of Dan's middle-class Jewish parents, Dan's early interest in literature, his stint in the Merchant Marine, and his active service in the U.S. Army. We also get snippets of the terrible displacement of Jews during Hitler's Holocaust, and transported Kathy, now an orphan, as she puts aside her Bombay heritage and tries to make a life for herself in the new world.

When the two meet, Kathy is a student at the University of Southern California and Dan is at UCLA: Westwood and the Downtown Campus; the Jewish boy from Los Angeles and the exotic Jewish girl from Bombay, India. It is not a story of unrequited love. It is more painful than that.

Kathy and Dan meet and love and pledge their troth. But Bluefarb has provided tension and conflicts galore in his novel, so that the roads to tranquil true love and its consummation are constantly thwarted.

Eventually, Dan becomes a full professor. He marries -- but not Kathy. And Kathy too achieves a modest professional status. She also marries -- but not Dan. Twenty years pass and then Dan and Kathy -- with the baggage of their lives now behind them, more or less -- meet once again. …

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