Short Stories Challenge – Peep Show by Nathan Englander from the collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank

Published September 3, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s Peep Show all about?:

Peep Show tells the story of a man who has turned his back on his religion and is wrestling with sexual longing as he visits a peep show.

What did I think?:

I found Peep Show, the fourth story in this collection to be a strange little tale, of which I am still trying to collect my thoughts about. It follows a man now known as Allen Fein who changed his name from Ari Feinberg while he turned his back on his Jewish faith. He is married to Claire who is now pregnant with their child but on Allen’s homeward commute one day he decides to visit a peep show. The usual rules apply for the customer’s pleasure – they buy tokens which they can use to open a partition allowing them to view scantily dressed girls. There is a time limit on the token however and when this runs out the partition closes and the customer must insert another token to be able to view the girls again. Allen becomes slightly enamoured with the first girl he sees sitting before him and is permitted to touch her for a brief period of time before his token runs out. After the first token period has expired Allen realises he is more aroused than he has ever been in his life and feels a huge amount of guilt and shame as he remembers his pregnant wife Claire who is at home waiting for him to return to work.

Unable to help himself, Allen inserts the second token to re-open the partition but instead of the beautiful girl he was fondling, on the chairs sit a host of naked rabbi’s, all whom Allen has known through his life who berate him for turning his back on his religion. Allen tries to defend himself but is quite weak against their arguments until the partition closes again. Hardly able to bear it, Allen inserts his third token, trying to clear his mind of the naked rabbi’s and picture the girl again but instead two people who he would never expect to see at the show appear half-dressed in front of him, which we as the reader know is a figment of imagination from his guilty mind.

This is probably one of the most peculiar stories I have read during my Short Story Challenge but at the same time I was strangely fascinated by it. The writing is excellent, as always from Nathan Englander and I appreciated the humour aspect running through the story as I pictured poor Allen staring at his naked rabbi’s. As always, the Jewish faith and a sense of conflict for the character is a hot theme of which I was particularly intrigued by in this story. It’s probably not the best I’ve read from this author, but reading it was definitely an interesting experience!

Would I recommend it?:


Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

NEXT SHORT STORY: Lights In Other Peoples Houses by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles

One comment on “Short Stories Challenge – Peep Show by Nathan Englander from the collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank

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