A Curable Romantic: Book summary and reviews of A Curable Romantic by Joseph Skibell

A Curable Romantic

A Novel

by Joseph Skibell

A Curable Romantic by Joseph Skibell X
A Curable Romantic by Joseph Skibell
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published in USA  Sep 2010
    608 pages
    Genre: Novels

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

As far as romance goes, Dr. Jakob Sammelsohn is fairly incurable. Twice married, once divorced, once widowed—all by the tender age of twelve— he finally flees his small village and his pious, vengeful father. A lovelorn candide, young Dr. Sammelsohn wanders optimistically through history—pursued by the amorous ghost of his dead wife.

Arriving in Vienna in 1890, a chance encounter with Sigmund Freud leads our hero into the arms of Emma Eckstein, one of Freud’s most famous patients. Later he romances the beautiful and wealthy Loë Bernfeld, who carries him into the world of Esperanto and the universal language movement. Finally, Dr. Sammelsohn finds himself in the Warsaw ghetto in 1940, only to become a pawn in a battle over the path to heaven.

A Curable Romantic is a novel of personal and historical exile that could spring only from the literary imagination of a virtuoso. Often fantastical yet always grounded in tradition and history, it is that rare literary feat —a truly incomparable tale, ingenuously told, peopled with characters who live on in the memory.

Read a Sample

Click to the right or left of the sample to turn the page.
(If no book jacket appears in a few seconds, then we don't have an excerpt of this book or your browser is unable to display it)

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews


BookBrowse Says
"Joseph Skibell’s A Curable Romantic made me aware of just how difficult it is to write a fictional character who slips himself into history and sidles up to once-living historical personages. In this novel, the awkwardness of the conceit far outweighs the story or the religious/philosophical issues such encounters are meant to provoke.

Dr. Jakob Sammelsohn encounters Sigmund Freud on the third page of the novel, and it is a portentous meeting. Sammelsohn is at the opera, peering down from a balcony at a young woman in the audience through a lorngette, when a man seated in front of him rears back his head, smashing the lorgnette into Sammelsohn’s nose. We’re meant to remember that moment forty pages later, when Freud introduces Sammelson to his dear colleague, Dr. Wilhelm Fleiss, who controversially theorized a link between the nose and the genitals. Fifty pages later, the young woman from the opera, a patient whom Freud has encouraged Sammelsohn to court, suffers a massive nosebleed in Sammelsohn’s company.

It is far too stage-directed to induce anything other than cringes in the reader - and not because of the blood and body parts involved. The setting, the time, the important characters all add up to make each scene incredibly portentous, as if history-making moments are about to happen in every chapter. And even when a scene is merely a scene, Skibell invests it with melodrama, as when Sammelsohn arrives early to a dinner with his aunt and uncle: “Caught out like actors behind a curtain that has risen before its cue, Fania and Moritz made off-seeming conversation while seeing to the last of their preparations.” Skibell has made it impossible for himself to portray authentic action. His writing is often marvelous, but it is also often exhaustingly self-important. One wishes Sammelsohn could simply fall out of love and settle down into a quiet, unintrospective life." - Amy Reading

Others Say
"Starred Review. Skibell's fat, cheeky, and sweeping latest...a magnetic collection of personalities." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. A fascinating, ambitious, and very successful novel ... believable, engaging, and often inspiring." - Library Journal

"Intellectual comedy of the highest order." - J.M. Coetzee, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature and author of Summertime and Waiting for the Barbarians.

The information about A Curable Romantic shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Author Information

Joseph Skibell

Joseph Skibell is the author of two previous novels, A Blessing on the Moon and The English Disease. He has received a Halls Fiction Fellowship, a Michener Fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, among other awards. He teaches at Emory University and is the director of the Richard Ellmann Lectures in Modern Literature.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more novels...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: With the Fire on High
    With the Fire on High
    by Elizabeth Acevedo
    From Like Water for Chocolate to Ratatouille, writers have recognized the power ...
  • Book Jacket: Lanny
    Lanny
    by Max Porter
    At once beautifully poignant and hauntingly grotesque, Max Porter's Lanny is like an unexpected ...
  • Book Jacket
    Call Me American
    by Abdi Nor Iftin
    As a boy growing up in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, Abdi Nor Iftin loved watching action ...
  • Book Jacket: The Last Collection
    The Last Collection
    by Jeanne Mackin
    What it's about:
    The Last Collection by Jeanne Mackin follows the lives of two internationally ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Beirut Hellfire Society
    by Rawi Hage

    A searing and visionary novel set in 1970s Beirut that asks what it means to live through war.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
The Guest Book
by Sarah Blake

"An American epic in the truest sense…"
Entertainment Weekly

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win In the Full Light of the Sun

New from Clare Clark!

"Evocative prose and excellent pacing make this fine historical a must-read for art history buffs."
- Publishers Weekly

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A A A Day K T D A

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.