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The First Desire: A Novel ebook

by Nancy Reisman

Acclaim for Nancy Reisman’s. Reisman’s sumptuous prose, and her canny knowledge of the corrosive ways an average family can come apart, make The First Desire a lovely, absorbing companion.

Acclaim for Nancy Reisman’s. A book of rhythms and reveries. The First Desire is a mystery story, left unsolved because the mystery is identity itself. A continuing testament to the paradoxical ease with which family ties unravel. Reisman writes beautifully, a prose of restraint and grace. The achievement of this novel is that you are completely inside it from the moment you begin.

Nancy Reisman In this astonishing novel Reisman brings to life the love, grief, and desires that.

When Sadie looks out her window and sees her bother standing on the front lawn she knows he can't bring good news. Fidgeting over coffee with sugar and cream he explains: Their sister is gone. Three days earlier Goldie left to go shopping and she has not returned. In this astonishing novel Reisman brings to life the love, grief, and desires that ultimately bind one family together.

The First Desire is a book that brings to life the weave of love, grief, tradition, and desire that binds a family . Nancy Reisman is the author of House Fires, a short story collection that won the 1999 Iowa Short Fiction Award.

The First Desire is a book that brings to life the weave of love, grief, tradition, and desire that binds a family together, even through the tumultuous times that threaten to tear it apart. Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.

Nancy Reisman is an American author. She teaches creative writing at Vanderbilt University. House Fires (Iowa Short Fiction Award, University of Iowa Press). The First Desire (Pantheon). Trompe L'Oeil (Tin House Books, May 2015). Reisman received her . from the MFA Program for Poets & Writers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and her . from Tufts University.

The First Desire mainly revolves around a family. How do you see the chapters working together to form a novel? The novel offers many of the characters’ perspectives and life experiences but doesn’t offer the father’s view. Why do you think the author has chosen not to show Abe’s point of view? Similarly, Celia is the only Cohen sibling not given chapters of her own.

The First Desire book. Reisman's first novel. A big story put in a small place and allowed to play out in the confines of one family. I think it had a marvelous control of both style and ambition.

comTold both in real-time and through flashbacks, The First Desire follows the Cohen family through several life changes, including the death of their mother, the birth of a child, financial hardships, and eventually World War II. While much of the novel is seen through the eyes of Sadie Cohen Feldstein, the second eldest and seemingly most responsible of the five Cohen siblings, debut novelist Nancy Reisman does an excellent job of getting into the heads and hearts of the remaining characters.

The First Desire is a book of great emotional power that brings to life the weave of love, grief, tradition, and desire that binds a family together, even through the tumultuous times that threaten to tear it apart. Read on the Scribd mobile app. Download the free Scribd mobile app to read anytime, anywhere. Publisher: Penguin Random House AudioReleased: Sep 14, 2004ISBN: 9780739317648Format: audiobook.

Books related to The First Desire. More by Nancy Reisman. Trompe l'Oeil: A Novel.

Nancy Reisman clearly agrees: her impressionistic, atmospheric debut novel, "The First Desire," is a. .

A novel using the centripetal force of an absent sister to assemble the multiple viewpoints of a family reacting to loss in 1928, told in something resembling stream of consciousness, even graced with an "idiot" sibling - initially, "The First Desire" reads like a distant, Northern Jewish cousin of "The Sound and the Fury. Until, that is, Goldie turns up alive and well in Venice Beach, Calif. only to be glimpsed intermittently thereafter.

1929. Buffalo, New York. A beautiful July day, the kind one waits for through the long, cold winters. Sadie Feldstein, née Cohen, looks out her window at the unexpected sight of her brother, Irving. His news is even more unexpected, and unsettling: their elder sister, Goldie, has vanished without a trace.With Goldie’s disappearance as the catalyst, The First Desire takes us deep into the life of the Cohen family and an American city, from the Great Depression to the years immediately following World War II. The story of the Cohens is seamlessly told from the various perspectives of siblings Sadie, Jo, Goldie, and Irving—each of whose worlds is upended over the course of the novel, the smooth veneer of their lives giving way to the vulnerabilities and secrets they’ve managed to keep hidden—and through the eyes of Lillian, the beautiful woman their father, Abe, took as a lover as his wife was dying. But while Abe’s affair with Lillian stuns his children, they are even more shocked by his cold anger in the wake of Goldie’s disappearance.The First Desire is a book of great emotional power that brings to life the weave of love, grief, tradition, and desire that binds a family together, even through the tumultuous times that threaten to tear it apart.
Nancy Reisman poses an important question in her provocative, if sometimes overwritten, debut novel, "The First Desire': What do we really want out of life? Reisman examines this question through the experiences of one family, grappling with the aftershocks of the sudden and unexpected disappearance of its oldest daughter. Each character confronts the issue, and in those confrontations, reveals the core components of his or her personality. It is Reisman's contention that we don't know ourselves well enough to act on our desires, and, as a result, we tend to live in illusion and seek to escape life's possibilities.

Set in Buffalo and spanning a generation (from 1929 to the immediate post World War II era), "The First Desire" chronicles the Cohens' response to an event that signals the erosion of an already overstretched family fabric. After assuming the caretaking responsibilities for her terminally-ill mother and unwillingly shouldering maternal obligations as well, Goldie simply vanishes. Though Goldie's resentments are demonstrably obvious and her resentment at a restrictive, meaningless existence palpable, her family is strangely oblivious to the possibility that Goldie simply may have fled. Her father, the grimly responsible Abe Cohen, quickly sits shiva and washes his hands of her. With a jeweler's quiet efficiency, he literally and figuratively buries his wife and daughter. Once he puts aside death, Abe separates himself from his remaining three daughters and sole son and devotes himself to his work and his frantic, passionate but sterile pursuit of romance. His is a singularly unfeeling man, whose carefully-maintained veneer cracks only after his unwanted confrontation with the Holocaust.

Abe's children prove to be the most interesting characters in "The First Desire." Each faces the absence of the family's true symbol of strength; they must discover an answer to what it is they want out of life. Of the remaining four, Sadie assumes moral responsibility for finding her sister. She subordinates other desires and determines to live an ordinary bourgeois life, never straying too far from the lines, always careful to maintain proper appearances, often bewildered as to how life seems to have swallowed her. She ruefully acknowledges "what she once wanted is not necessarily what she wants now." Despite her functional marriage and competent motherhood, her "desire often slides to the periphery, or beyond, into murk."

Murk is where her brother, Irving, lives. Pilfering money from his father's business or cadging change from Sadie, the sybaritic Irving never musters the courage to live life. He retreats to faceless trysts with nameless partners, shuns the possibilities of genuine affection and lives in a twilight world of burlesque houses, poker nights and false identities. One of the middle sisters, Jo, exudes frustration and suffers the consequences of a sterile, repressed life. Sexually frustrated (and perhaps a closet lesbian) and yoked to her developmentally-disabled sister Celia, Jo lacks the instinct to even nibble at life. Instead, she burns with resentments...anger over her unwelcome responsibilities to care for Celia and her father, despair over an absolute lack of possibilities and bewilderment over how little control she has of life. She is genuinely lost.

Reisman offers believable insights into the lives of the Cohens; her portraits are sensitive, compassionate and believable. However, when she strays from the narrative and focuses on minor characters (Abe's mistress, Lillian, receives far too much attention), "The First Desire" loses traction. Reisman's detailed descriptions of the Cohens' physical environment veer dangerously into excess, and much of the family's angst is repetitive. The novel's braided chapters, written from a family member's perspective, occasionally hinder the plot's continuity.

Despite these weaknesses, "The First Desire" showcases talent. Nancy Reisman boldly stakes out psychological terrain that is difficult to navigate. Her characters, uncomfortably flawed and frightfully ill-equipped to deal with the centrifugal impact of Goldie's disappearance, remind us that regardless of the vicissitudes of life, we have an obligation to discover our first desire.
pretty good
I found the all characters to be unlikeable. Author didn't develop the characters' backgrounds enough to gain empathy from readers.
It's July 1929. Sadie lounges, enjoying a serene morning in her own home --- until her brother Irving arrives with the news that their sister has disappeared. The missing sister, Goldie, was the oldest sibling who ran the household after the death of their mother and also worked at the library. She always had been so reliable.

No one can explain why or how Goldie vanished. Yet the family members living at home hesitate when Sadie questions them about her last days there. One of the sisters, Jo, doesn't tell Sadie her own viewpoint concerning Goldie's disappearance. Goldie had been wandering and dreamy. In Jo's opinion, a man was surely involved. She can't quite decide how to feel about her sister's absence: is fear the appropriate emotion? Jo longs for her mother, who would have known the proper frame of mind for the family mystery.

Their father has taken up with a woman of whom no one (except Irving) approves. The father's reaction to Goldie's absence horrifies the remaining family members. He insists on sitting shivah for her, although it is a declaration of her death, which has never been proven. According to Sadie, "You can't erase a person, though her father in his rage will try." When the time comes, the sisters excuse themselves from the ceremony. Instead of donating Goldie's clothing to charity, the women hide them in the attic.

The plot follows the family from 1929 to 1950, with flashbacks lending back-story. One by one, the family members' stories are told, back and forth, braiding them together into intricate patterns of personalities and relationships. Sadie has the affluent life she has always wanted, with two daughters and an attentive husband. Yet she wonders what she's missing. Jo falls in love with a female co-worker, and into heartbreak. Irving, the sisters' only brother, has a huge secret he guards from his sisters and father. Meanwhile, Irving continues to pilfer from his family in order to gamble until he heads off to war. The atrocities he views affect Irving strongly, yet he returns to his old ways when he comes home from the war. And sister Celia is as odd as she always has been --- following handsome strangers, making scenes in public places, and refusing to bathe. We also learn the bittersweet story of their father's lover, Lillian, who is an integral character in the story.

Debut novelist Nancy Reisman paints gorgeously haunting descriptions: a man's overcoat is "like an unbuttoned pelt"; a father has gone to work during a family tragedy "leaving a pale gray blur in his place." The characters and their stories are subtle and real. Just as in real life, there are no stereotyped personalities and no overly neat conclusions. The story draws readers in until they feel absorbed into the Cohen family. This engrossing and satisfying novel is the perfect companion for a rainy afternoon in front of the fire while sipping tea.

--- Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon
For those readers who are only content with action novels, this is not a novel that will satisfy. But for those who enjoy characters who unfold and come to life and haunt you for days -- weeks! -- to come, The First Desire is a novel to be read and savored.

In essence, the First Desire is about how a family can sustain and at the same time, destroy our internal vistas end up exploding into the harsh glare of reality. While reading this novel, I kept wondering: "How can someone as young as Nancy Reisman "get" what life was like in the 1920s and 1930s and recreate it so convincingly? How can she breathe life into these characters so beautifully?" It's the novelist's skill, and she does it to near perfection.

These are not one dimensional characters and there's not a false move here. Anyone who has ever explored the minefields of family life (and that's about 99% of us), will find something to relate to. I felt as if I knew these characters, their confusions and frustrations, as they muddled through. With the wealth of intimate details, these characters are very, very real.
The First Desire: A Novel ebook
Nancy Reisman
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Pantheon; First Edition edition (September 14, 2004)
320 pages
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