Dancing with Einstein


For seven years, Marea has traveled the world, running away from the past. As she approaches thirty, however, she returns to New York and gets a job, deciding it’s time to face her problems. Since the accidental death of her father, a nuclear physicist and Holocaust survivor, she has been at odds with her mother. She has also had nightmares about atomic bombs “dropping out of an airplane like a mother cat giving birth to black kittens.” Marea must look back to her childhood to find the answers.
Dancing with Einstein is the second novel by Kate Wenner, a TV producer and novelist (Setting Fires, 2000). Going back and forth between the fifties and seventies, Ms. Wenner tells a complicated story. The book’s finest portrait is that of Jonas Hoffman, her father, seen through Marea’s eyes, first as a child, then as a struggling adult. Even so, the novel limps in spots—particularly when Marea finally reads her father’s diary, written in third person point of view. Call me a cynic, but I could not believe that Marea’s various therapists—a Freudian-in-training, an intimidating Jungian, a feminist, and an older, patient woman—would all agree to receive little or no pay just to hear the tales of her travels and her memories of Einstein, a friend of the family. As if these four therapists were not enough, Marea also consults her boss, a compassionate gay baker, and even a twelve-year-old boy she meets on the train. Too much of a good thing, I say.

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