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The Hand before the Eye
by Donald Friedman

Price: $24.00
266 pages
trade cloth
ISBN: 0922811423
LCCN #: 99-046568

The Hand Before the Eye begins with an 18th century Hassidic teaching: Just as the hand, held before the eye, can hide the tallest mountain, so the routine of everyday life can keep us from seeing the vast radiance of and the secret wonders that fill the world. Mindful of this powerful truth, the reader meets Lawyer Farbman, a debt-ridden, sex-deprived New Yorker, living beyond his financial and emotional means. Dunned by his unforgiving creditors and distressed by an undiagnosed malaise of the soul, Farbman is caught between a humanistic impulse to help others and a selfish desire to elbow his way to the front of the line. With energetic and ironic prose, Donald Friedman takes us into the world of law and medicine. Through Job-like suffering, Farbman is taught the spiritual lessons of justice and healing. Ultimately, he comes to understand that the good life offers two true gifts: meaningful work and the love of another.

“A winner. Friedman's is the wit, style, and intelligence of a truly gifted contemporary novelist.” —Hoosier Times

“A heartening story of an individual making a dramatic and successful transformation.” —Library Journal

“The spiritual malaise and gradual awakening of a New York attorney, Friedman's story is refreshingly earnest.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Friedman's characters are nicely rounded and even likeable despite their flaws. The crisp dialogue builds momentum well as Farbman grapples with "the meaning of life" themes of the story. Friedman treats the religious material with respect as he explores the thought-provoking aspects concerning the role of doctrine in everyday life.”—ForeWord

“A scrambling, perpetually desperate debtor, uninspiring father, and dreadful husband, Farbman is the prism through which the readers glean the pervasive anomie and avarice characterizing both domestic and business life … Friedman sympathetically portrays this much-taxed every-guy while running him through a gauntlet of blunders and cruelties toward the beatific blessedness his once-flawed protagonist has earned.”—Publishers Weekly

“Lawyer Farbman is a combination of Willy Loman and Sammy Glick with a law degree. The book is an achingly accurate tale of how law is often practiced in the big city. It is the picture of a legal system that neither helps nor heals—and yet has the capacity to do both. The tale is, however, in its last analysis, one of deliverance and redemption. It is funny and sad, but at all times, compelling and great reading.”—Raoul Lionel Felder

“An utterly absorbing journey from the depths —in this case, the fascinating depths of the legal profession — to a coda wherein Judaism and nature combine to effect a modern day 'second birth' experience. Skillfully and poetically rendered.”—Rabbi Herbert Weiner

“Donald Friedman makes art not for art's sake, but for morality's sake, sending his characters on risky negotiations of both moral laws and worldly compulsions.Through their journey, he investigates the urgencies of love, and he wins our hearts as his characters seek to win one another's.”—Frederick Busch

“The Hand before the Eye has spirit, energy, and a lot of laughs. A wonderful book.” —Robert Kotlowitz

“Donald Friedman has written a charming, entertaining urban fable. He addresses with humor and compassion the malaise of the modern-day working stiff.”—Kaylie Jones

“This extraordinary novel appears to be, in significant situations, akin to a highly contemporary Book of Job. A likable, understandable guy, trapped by awful circumstances, runs into a solid brick wall and there's no way out. However,that's not the ending; it's freshly liberating, fulfilling, and—why not admit it?—glorious. Read it.”— Malcolm Boyd

“Donald Friedman's provocative novel is a timely reminder that it's never too late for atonement and transformation of one's life from the craziness engendered by a bottom line of money and power to an inner tranquility and harmony with nature.”—Michael Lerner

“I laughed. I cried. But mostly I thought about what Donald Friedman had to say. Perhaps we're returning to a time when interesting people wrote novels. Please read The Hand before the Eye. It's filled with comic furor and intelligent intensity. It features a character all too many of us can relate to. And most importantly, it suffuses the reader with passion and hope.”—Marissa Piesman

“If Franz Kafka collaborated with Rabelais to produce a novel to entertain SigmundFreud, they could do no better than Donald Friedman's The Hand before theEye. This extraordinary first novel is textured with a diversity of characters trapped in a crucible of relationships no more of less comic than the human condition itself. Cheers for Donald Friedman, who has given us a triumph of wit, ideas, and narrative invention.”—Sidney Offit

“Friedman has created a wonderful Bellowesque character in Farbman. There's a little Farbman in all of us, especially in the increasing number of lawyers who are desperate to escape from clients, courts and confrontations. Friedman's novel lays bare the legal system and its frustrations. A great debut novel. I'm already waiting for Farbman II.”—Alan M. Dershowitz

 


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