Friedman, Donald 1943-
FRIEDMAN, Donald 1943-
ADDRESSES: Home—South Orange, NJ. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Mid-List Press, 4324 12th Ave. S, Minneapolis, MN 55407-3218. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Attorney and writer.
AWARDS, HONORS: First Book Series Award for the Novel, Mid-List Press, 1999, for The Hand before the Eye.
The Hand before the Eye (novel), Mid-List Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2000.
Contributor of fiction to publications, including Tikkun and New Orleans Review.
WORK IN PROGRESS: The Writer's Brush: An Anthology of the Visual Art of Nineteenth-and Twentieth-Century Writers, for Texere Publishing.
SIDELIGHTS: During his early childhood, attorney and writer Donald Friedman and his mother lived with his maternal grandparents—who had emigrated from eastern Europe—while his father, who eventually became an investment banker, fought with the combat engineers in the European theatre of World War II. From grade school through high school, Friedman was preoccupied with the visual arts—he painted in oil, sculpted, and cartooned. At Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, where he pursued pre-med studies and majored in English literature, he also acted, winning the school's best-actor award in his senior year, cartooned for the school paper, and wrote his first fiction. One year out of college, Friedman commented to CA, he decided to set aside his creative ambitions and entered law school, "resolving that at forty, an age when [I] imagined all useful life was over, [I] would start writing again."
In the 1980s, having turned forty and with his interest in fiction writing rekindled, Friedman took creative writing courses and started writing again in earnest. His short story "Jewing" appeared in Tikkun and became the foundation for his 2000 novel, The Hand before the Eye.
Lawyer Farbman, the protagonist of The Hand before the Eye, is a midtown-Manhattan trial attorney with a motley clientele. Farbman, who lives beyond his means, is always just a step ahead of his creditors. He and his wife, Ann Marie, seem married in little more than name and he has abdicated most child-rearing responsibilities for their children, Jennifer and Jason, to her. A chance meeting with the very attractive, highly spiritual Leah Stein results in Farbman's following her to a retreat with a mystic rabbi. There Farbman finds a connection to his long-neglected faith as well as with Leah, and he vows to live his life with a sense of higher purpose. Soon after his epiphany, Farbman begins to suffer what turns into a seemingly endless series of Job-like visitations: Ann Marie is diagnosed with cancer, then decides to divorce him and exclude him from his children's lives, his business withers, and unexpected betrayals occur. The more ethical his resolve, it seems, the worse his circumstances become. Sybil S. Steinberg, writing in Publishers Weekly, called the book "intentionally understated and earnest" with "a heartwarming, old-fashioned epiphany and an impassioned finale of spiritual redemption." Kimberly G. Allen, writing in Library Journal, called the book "a heartening story of an individual making a dramatic and successful transformation."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Jerusalem Report, April 10, 2000, David Margolis, "Every Rat Has His Day," p. 44.
Library Journal, October 15, 1999, Kimberly G. Allen, review of The Hand before the Eye, p. 104.
Publishers Weekly, October 18, 1999, Sybil S. Steinberg, review of The Hand before the Eye, pp. 70-71.
Hand before the Eye Web site,http://www.thehandbeforetheeye.com/ (November 21, 2003).
Mid-List Press Web site,http://www.midlist.org/ (November 21, 2003), author profile.
Poets & Writers Web site,http://www.pw.org/ (November 21, 2003), author profile.