THE GOLDKORN VARIATIONS collects in one definitive volume, with a new afterword by the author, three previously published novels (originally from E.P. Dutton and Norton presses) about an aged European flautist, his music and his loves, from childhood to age one hundred and four.
THE GOLDKORN VARIATIONS collects in one definitive volume, with a new afterword by the author, three previously published novels (originally from E.P. Dutton and Norton presses) about an aged European flautist, his music and his loves, from childhood to age one hundred and four. The author, Leslie Epstein, introduced Leib Goldkorn in his novella The Steinway Quintet which received the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ award for Distinguished Achievement in Literature, later expanded as one of three tales collected in the first of these volumes, and which spawned what came to be known as Goldkorniana. The illustration by Pablo Picasso, “Scène Erotique II 02-08-1962,” 1962, appearing on the cover of THE GOLDKORN VARIATIONS courtesy of the Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), and the Pace Gallery, is one which the author, Leslie Epstein feels “particularly captures the undying energy of a man who never seems to grow old-in that sense, perhaps, Leib Goldkorn is like Picasso himself.”
“A novella of genius.” —Geoffrey Wolfe, Esquire
“Epstein’s vision of colliding worlds is disturbing, moving, probing.” —Publishers Weekly
“Goldkorn is a man of unflagging ardor and thwarted dreams, and his creator is a gutsy and gifted writer who reminds us that comedy is just the flip side of tragedy…a master satirist.” —Booklist
“A stunning piece of work. Epstein succeeds brilliantly in illuminating the human predicament.” —The Florida Times-Union/Jacksonville Journal
“In one of contemporary literature’s most life-affirming works, Leslie Epstein turns a musician’s story into music itself.” —Frederick Busch, The Georgia Review
“A victorious tarantella to life. This expert writer’s greatest talent is the ability to convey the peculiar anguish of being Jewish, or black, or in any way repressed or oppressed, without imposing on the reader his own first-person experience, from which that ability derives. Epstein’s transcendent eye looks with compassion on humanity as a whole.” —The Washington Star
“Like Saul Bellow and Stanley Elkin before him, Epstein writes an energetic, full-throated prose that finds maniacal vaudevillian comedy in both everyday absurdity and historical catastrophe….[Leib Goldkorn] is a delightfully outrageous creature, part urbane New York sophisticate and part clownish schlemiel.” —Newsday
“Pure hilarity, strong and wondrous, breathtaking and heartbreaking …Epstein converts language into a sort of music, the kind of lyricism one looks for and seldom finds in literature.” —St. Louis Globe-Democrat
“An expertly balanced mixture of hilarity and pain.... Like a German-accented Salman Rushdie, Epstein is at play among several vernaculars, gleefully scrambling cliches and strewing glittering bits of wry humor with abandon…[Goldkorn] is surely one of the liveliest nonagenarians in fiction, detailing the decay of impoverished old age with a kind of ridiculous dignity.” —San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle
“Leib Goldkorn’s is a wonderful voice, which resonates with rare sensitivity and remarkable insight. Ice Fire Water is playful, hilarious and somber, all at the same time. A great book.” —Aharon Appelfeld
“A masterly blend of the plangent and the preposterous…Goldkorn transforms the visible into the risible…Ice Fire Water abounds with inspired confusions and illusions…irreverent as it is inventive, Ice Fire Water is a manic screwball comedy and, if it ever made it onto a screen, even the mosquitoes would guffaw.” —Los Angeles Times
“As his earlier fiction has demonstrated, Mr. Epstein is an exuberant writer, whose ambitions to address the large matters of history, and our moral and intellectual choices, is matched by a commodious talent—an ease in story-telling and a screwball feeling for comedy that counterpoints the high seriousness of his subjects and invests them, at once, with humanity
and a sense of emergency…. Reason and passion, death and life, the mundane and the momentous come crashing brightly together. And by the end, as Leib Goldkorn re-embraces music as a symbol of nature and harmony, the reader, too, is moved to celebrate the redemptive powers of the imagination—and to applaud Mr. Epstein’s artistry and ambition.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
Fiction. Jewish Studies.
Author Website Review @ Tablet Magazine Excerpt @ Tablet Magazine
Leslie Epstein was born in Los Angeles to a family of film makers —his father and uncle co-wrote dozens of films including The Man who Came to Dinner, Arsenic and Old Lace, Strawberry Blonde, Yankee Doodle Dandy and Casablanca—and films make up much of the subject matter of his fiction. He earned an undergraduate degree at Yale and a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford. He is the author of Hill of Beans: A Novel of War and Celluloid, P.D. Kimerakov, The Steinway Quintet Plus Four, Regina, GOLDKORN TALES, Pinto and Sons, Pandaemonium, Ice Fire Water: A Leib Goldkorn Cocktail, San Remo Drive, and The Eighth Wonder of the World. His novel King of the Jews, a classic of Holocaust Fiction, was published in eleven foreign languages; his stage adaptation was produced by the Huntington Theatre Company and the Olney Theatre. He's received Fulbright and Guggenheim fellowships, an award for Distinction in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, a residency at the Rockefeller Institute at Bellagio, and grants from the Ingram Merrill Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Director of the Creative Writing Program at Boston University for over thirty years, he currently teaches fiction.