The Forever Street


Originally published in 1984, this novel is an incredibly rich and heady brew that tracks the Spiegelglass family from 1873 to the annexation of Austria by Germany in 1938. Berek Spiegelglass, son of the town goosedown maker, brings a Whitsuntide goose to the Emperor, along with a petition for the Jews of Varungy in Slovakia to move to Turk Place in Vienna. Once he is the owner of Turk Place, Berek gains possession of a brick from the ancient Jerusalem Temple. It had come to with Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa, when Turkish armies laid siege to Vienna in 1683. We follow the Spiegelglass family through Berek’s marriage, the birth of his sons seventeen years later, his bereavement and remarriage, and the life of those sons and his grandson. Their lives are bound up with the Brick, in which they insert written pleas at crucial periods in their lives, and with Turk Place itself. At times, events seem almost magical, though Berek would just view them as happening because of the Brick.

The characters come alive through the accretion of detail. The author’s imagination is astonishing, and I kept marveling over small details, unexpected or unusual but just perfect for the evolving story. The novel provides focused glimpses of Vienna through the 65-year period when Spiegelglasses live on Turk Place. I read The Forever Street in conjunction with Morton’s autobiographical work, The Runaway Waltz, and it was poignant to note influences from his own life on this work of fiction.

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