7: Text excerpts from David Bezmozgis’s "Roman Berman, Massage Therapist," 2004.
David Bezmozgis, like other Jewish writers from the former Soviet Union who immigrated to Canada and the United States, writes in English—his second language. There are also Jewish writers from the former Soviet Union whose families moved to Germany and Israel, and they are increasingly writing on these topics in German and Hebrew, respectively. It is notable, regardless of what language they are writing in, that all of these authors are producing work in their second or third language. The satire and humor present in many of these works is particularly remarkable, given that these are often considered the hardest facets of a language to master.
In "Roman Berman," Bezmozgis judiciously uses short phrases, or even single words—drawing on double and triple meanings—to create a satirical tone.
Suggested Activity: Notice the highlighted words and/or phrases in these excerpts from David Bezmozgis’s "Roman Berman, Massage Therapist." What specific meaning(s) and tone do these words/phrases convey? How would these passages—and, in fact, the story as a whole—be different if Bezmozgis had omitted these words?
Source: Excerpts from “Roman Berman, Massage Therapist” from NATASHA: AND OTHER STORIES by David Bezmozgis. Copyright © 2005 by David Bezmozgis. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.