Excerpt from A Replacement Life by Boris Fishman, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

A Replacement Life

by Boris Fishman

A Replacement Life
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jun 2014, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2015, 352 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Alta Ifland

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

- 1 -
s u n da y, j u l y 1 6 , 2 0 0 6

The telephone rang just after five. Unconscionably, the day was already preparing to begin, a dark blue lengthening across the sky. Hadn't thenight only started? Slava's head said so. But in the cobalt square of the window, the sun was looking for a way up, the great towers of the Upper East Side ready for gilding.

Who was misdialing at five o'clock in the morning on Sunday? Slava's landline never rang. Even telemarketers had given up on him, you have to admit an achievement. His family no longer called because he had forbidden it. His studio, miraculously affordable even for a junior employee of a Midtown magazine, rang with echoes, nothing but a futon, a writing desk, a torchiere wrapped in cast-iron vines (forced on him by his grandfather), and a tube television he never turned on. Once in a while, he imagined vanishing into the walls, like a spirit in Poe, and chuckled bitterly.

He thought about getting up, a surprise attack on the day. Sometimes he rose extra-early to smell the air in Carl Schurz Park before the sun turned it into a queasy mixture of garbage, sunscreen, and dog shit. As the refuse trucks tweaked the slow air with their bells, he would stand at the railing, eyes closed, the river still black and menacing from the night, the brine of an old untouchable ocean in his nose. An early start always filled him with the special hope available only before seven or eight, before he got down to the office.

The phone rang again, God bless them. Defeated, he reached over. In truth, he was not ungrateful to be called on. Even if it turned out to be a telemarketer. He would have listened to a question about school bonds, listened gravely.

"Slava," a waterlogged voice—his mother—whispered in Russian. He felt anger, then something less certain. Anger because he had said not to call. The other because generally she obeyed nowadays. "Your grandmother isn't," she said. She burst into tears.

Isn't. Verbiage was missing. In Russian, you didn't need the adjective to complete the sentence, but in English, you did. In English, she could still be alive.

"I don't understand," he said. He hadn't spoken to any of them in weeks, if not a month, but in his mind, his grandmother, quiet sufferer of a cirrhosis that had been winning for years, was fixed to her bed in Midwood, as if the way he remembered her was the way she would be until he came to see her again, until he authorized new developments. Something previously well placed dislodged in his stomach.

"They took her in on Friday," his mother said. "We thought it was only hydration again

He stared at the blanket around his feet. It was as frayed and fine as an old shirt. Grandmother had scoured it in the wash how many times. The Gelmans had brought it from Minsk, as if blankets were not sold in America. And they weren't, not like this, a full goose inside. The cover opened in the middle, not on the side. A girl had gotten tangled up in there in a key moment once. "I think I need Triple A," she said. They burst out laughing and had to start over.

"Slava?" his mother said. She was quiet and frightened. "She died alone, Slava. No one was with her."

"Don't do that," he said, grateful for her irrationality. "She didn't know."

"I hadn't slept the night before, so I left," she said. "Your grandfather was supposed to go this morning. And then she died." She started to flow again, sobs mixing with snot. "I kissed her and said, 'I'll see you tomorrow.' Slava, mercy, I should have stayed."

"She wouldn't have known you were there," he said in a thick voice. He felt vomit rising in his throat. The blue morning had become gray. The air conditioner chugged from the window, the humidity waiting outside like a thief.

  • 1
  • 2

From A Replacement Life by Boris Fishman Copyright © 2014 by Boris Fishman. Reprinted courtesy of Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

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!

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: A Gentleman in Moscow
    A Gentleman in Moscow
    by Amor Towles
    It is June 21, 1922, and 33-year-old Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is convicted of being a class ...
  • Book Jacket: I Contain Multitudes
    I Contain Multitudes
    by Ed Yong
    If a stranger were to accost you on the street and tell you that, from birth, you have never been ...
  • Book Jacket: Night of the Animals
    Night of the Animals
    by Bill Broun
    Debut novelist Bill Broun is a gentle, exquisite literary surgeon. His protagonist, 90-year-old ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Tea Planter's Wife
    by Dinah Jefferies

    An utterly engrossing, compulsive page-turner set in 1920s Ceylon.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
This Must Be the Place
by Maggie O'Farrell

An irresistible love story for fans of Beautiful Ruins and Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Blood at the Root

Blood at the Root

"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D C Y C Before T A H

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 books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.