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A Curable Romantic    by Joseph Skibell order for
Curable Romantic
by Joseph Skibell
Order:  USA  Can
Algonquin, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

If you enjoy immersing yourself in long novels, this 608 page story will keep you occupied for a while. Fantastical, yet grounded in tradition and history, this first person narrative introduces Dr. Jakob Sammelsohn, a lovelorn Candide wandering through modern history.

Beginning in a small village in the outskirts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the story quickly moves to Vienna in the 1890s. It is here that the protagonist meets Dr. Freud and his famous patient, Emma Eckstein. At this point the plot gets a little surreal since Jakob's courtship of the unstable Eckstein results in the amorous ghost of his former wife haunting him. Jakob abandoned her on their wedding age day many years before.

Walking away from his relationship with Eckstein, Jakob then romances another woman, the ravishing and wealthy Loe Bernfeld. She introduces him to a new passion, the world of Esperanto.

His adventures (or more aptly misadventures) eventually land the doctor in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1940 where the novel's final, climatic scenes unfold.

Dubbed a picaresque novel of exile both personal and historical - this is Joseph Skibell's third novel. His previous work has been called brilliant, astonishingly original, highly imaginative and artfully clever. Although this praise may be justified, I have to admit he is an author you either immediately like or dislike.

No matter what your initial impression is, after reading the first 75-100 pages, allow it to determine if you continue reading. If you are captivated by the character and the story plow on. But if not, trust me, the story isn't going to get better nor will you come to eventually like Dr. Sammelsohn.

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