Joan Silber does it again.


Fools is what people call a cycle of stories, somehow more than your average linked collection, but still segmented enough to not quite be a novel. The first story lends the book its title and gives way to all the stories that come after. “Fools,” about a group of early twentieth century downtown anarchists, stands on its own as a unique, daring, touching narrative. It is thrilling, though, to continue on reading to see how the progeny of those anarchists–how the children of those that work in the hotels they will run one day, how the nonprofit development officer who meets the French lover of one of those children–spin out into a vast world of personalities, dramas and social movements.

How did she do it? Oh, I really wonder. This is one of those books that will fade into my memory as if it is actual memory, as if I knew these people once, as if, maybe, I even did what they did. I swear I remember, once, being on a cold, blustery Staten Island beach. Was I?