Call it Sleep by Henry Roth

  • July 8, 2014 · 7:30 PM
  • Meeting Room / Library off the lobby

Call It Sleep is the magnificent story of David Schearl, the “dangerously imaginative” child coming of age in the slums of New York.

"Roth has done for the East Side Jew what James T. Farrell is doing for the Chicago Irish in the Studs Lonigan trilogy.... When his characters are speaking pure Yiddish, Roth translates it into great beauty....The final chapters in the book have been compared to the Nighttown episodes of Joyce’s Ulysses; the comparison is apt." --John Chamberlain, The New York Times

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  • Jim H.

    First novels often show the authors passion and energy, and also sometimes (regrettably) the telltale marks of a new author still learning his trade.

    A dark book this one, and long, and sometimes heavy handed, and that transliterated street patois – Jeezzz!

    But I liked it for the clear sharp observation of life among the street kids of the Lower east Side, and for that tour de force Joycean stream of consciousness ending.
    Thanks everybody for coming out.

    1 · July 9, 2014

  • Wendy S.

    So sorry - ozone, humidity and pollution .

    I really wanted to be a part of this discussion - sigh.

    July 8, 2014

    • Jim H.

      Sorry Wendy -- your voice was missed

      July 8, 2014

  • Judith K.

    I really enjoyed this book, couldn't put it down but I can't make it tonight.

    July 8, 2014

  • Elizabeth

    Sorry, last minute change in plans.

    July 7, 2014

  • Jim H.

    Just a reminder that we will be collecting our dues at this Tuesday's meetup.
    $4.00 per person for the period from now until the end of the year. Thank you

    July 7, 2014

  • Jim H.

    As always if you find you can't be with us on Tuesday PLEASE take a minute and change your RSVP from YES to NO. Thanks

    July 3, 2014

  • Wendy S.

    Thank you so much, Ted.

    July 2, 2014

  • Ted C.

    In Call It Sleep, there are a few scenes in which David reads Hebrew aloud. In each case, the Hebrew is transliterated but not translated. Of these, there are two important places where he reads from the Book of Isaiah, chap 6. In Coal/Chap 4 (p. 227, Avon ed.), he reads verses 1-2; in The Rail/Chap 15 (p. 367), he reads v. 1-3 and starts v. 4. Here is the translation of verses 1-7:

    1. In the year of King Uzziah's death, I saw my Lord sitting on a high and lofty throne, and its legs filled the Temple. 2. Seraphim stood above, at His service, six wings, six wings to each, with two it would cover its face, with two it would cover its feet, and with two it would fly. 3. And one called to the other and said, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is filled with His glory.” 4. The doorposts moved many cubits at the sound of the the one who called, and the house became filled with smoke. (cont.)

    1 · July 2, 2014

    • Jim H.

      Thanks Ted. My Kindle edition gave the translation

      July 2, 2014

    • Wendy S.

      Thank you, Ted.

      July 2, 2014

  • Ted C.

    (cont.) 5. Then I said, "Woe is me for I shall die, for I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell among a people of unclean lips, for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts.” 6. One of the Seraphim flew to me and in his hand was a coal, which he took with tongs from atop the Altar. 7. He touched it to my mouth and said, "Behold! This has touched your lips; your iniquity is removed and your sin shall be atoned."

    July 2, 2014

  • Jim H.

    Just a reminder to everyone that we are meeting July 8th NOT July 1st. Have a great holiday weekend everyone. See you next week

    June 30, 2014

    • Wendy S.

      You have a good holiday, too.

      July 1, 2014

  • Julia B.

    Thanks Jim. Yes, I was aware meeting was changed to the 8th. Unfortunately, I now find I can't be there.

    July 1, 2014

  • BobMM

    Isabelle, I know how you feel. Try forming a new group - I feel that many of the "waiters" from this group (especially me) would join.

    May 13, 2014

  • Roberta

    Jews Without Money is another novel that is often mentioned with Call it Sleep about this era/time. It is the only novel Gold wrote and might interest people.

    May 13, 2014

  • Maureen S.

    I read Call it Sleep in college in a history course, and it is very interesting. It really gives you a flavor of the era and is also a great story. Maureen

    May 13, 2014

  • Bobby

    I'm confused. I thought from the Hemingway meeting that the entire group (or the attendees) were to nominate and suggest titles for future selection, to be discussed and chosen at the June meeting. This struck me (and others) as prudent, given that the last group discussion about book selection occurred in December 2013 and (in my view) we've had several dogs chosen for 2014, seemingly unilaterally imposed (lacking discussion or group approval).

    Many have nominated titles that have been ignored or dismissed, sans dialog, and a crop of titles has been chosen without any group approval (unless discussed at the December meeting, which I missed).

    Why are titles selected without any group discussion or input?

    May 12, 2014

    • Jim H.

      Bobby at the December meeting you refer to the group reviewed and voted on a dozen or more books. ALL the books we have read since that discussion came from that group approved and discussed list.
      No book has been unilaterally imposed on the group. We will meet in June and discuss and approve books for the rest of the year. Perhaps at that time we will also review the book selection process with a view to making it more responsive to the wishes of the members

      May 12, 2014

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