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Totempole is Sanford Friedman’s radical coming-of-age novel, featuring Stephen Wolfe, a young Jewish boy growing up in New York City and its environs during the Depression and war years. In eight discrete chapters, which trace Stephen’s evolution from a two-year-old boy to a twenty-four-year-old man, Friedman describes with psychological acuity and great empathy Stephen’s intellectual, moral, and sexual maturation. Taught to abhor his body for the sake of his soul, Stephen finds salvation in the eventual unification of the two, the recognition that body and soul should not be partitioned but treated as one being, one complete man.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781590177617
Publisher: New York Review Books
Publication date: 09/02/2014
Series: NYRB Classics Series
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 432
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Sanford Friedman (1928–2010) was born in New York City. After graduating from the Horace Mann School and the Carnegie Institute of Technology, he was stationed as a military police officer in Korea, earning a Bronze Star. He began his career as a playwright and theater producer, and was later a writing instructor at Juilliard and SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders). “Ocean,” a chapter from Totempole, was serialized in Partisan Review in 1964 and won second prize in the 1965 O. Henry Awards. Totempole (1965) was followed by the novels A Haunted Woman (1968), Still Life (1975), and Rip Van Winkle (1980). At the time of his death, Friedman left behind an unpublished manuscript for the novel Conversations with Beethoven, now available as an NYRB Classic.

Peter Cameron is the author of three collections of short stories and six novels, including The City of Your Final Destination, Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You, and Coral Glynn.

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Totempole 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Bembo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Totempole tells the story of Stephen Wolfe from his early years to his mid twenties, and shows how much he is influenced and changed, for good and bad, by those he with whom he comes into contact. The changes in the young Stephen are quite extreme, from adorable to obnoxious, until later influences begin finally to mould Stephen, the young man. It is clear too how events in his childhood are responsible for the many hang-ups that plague Stephen as he comes of age.For later, when Stephen is serving in Korea we see a very compassionate side of him, as he develops a friendship with the Korean prisoners, and particularly a male doctor, which becomes blatantly and almost naturally sexual.This is a captivating story, the more so as it progresses, and I found the latter part of the book especially moving. Highly recommended.