Written in 1945, "Focus" was Arthur Miller's first novel and one of the first books to directly confront American anti-Semitism. It remains as chilling and incisive today as it was at the time of its controversial debut. As World War II draws to a close, anti-Semitism is alive and well in Brooklyn, New York. Here, Newman, an American of English descent, floats through a world of multiethnic neighborhoods indifferent to the racism around him. That is, until he begins wearing glasses that render him "Jewish" in the eyes of others, making him the target of anti-Semitic persecution. As he and his wife find friendship and support from a Jewish immigrant, Newman slowly begins to understand the racial hatreds that surround him. "A strong, sincere book bursting with indignation." ("The New York Times Book Review")
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - lesleydawn - LibraryThing
Even though Arthur Miller wrote this book in 1945, I think it holds a universal theme that is as relevant and true today as it was then. That both amazes and saddens me. Fantastic book that everyone ... Read full review
The story that Miller tells is a projection of reality onto a surface that perhaps miller saw and perhaps imagined. There was a Father Coughan who was in fact dangerous. There were in fact christian groups who took off against Jews in a criminal, unethical and unchristian way.
In my early Bronx experience I lived in a neighborhood of Jews, Blacks , Irish, Polish, Italians and many other mostly middle European nationalities. No such block existed anywhere in a 30 block radius of my neighborhood.
I bring this up to argue the case that Millers projection is distorted and represents an almost imaginary slice of life. The fact is that fiction distorts reality and less people to a phony sympathy for the many terrible attacks that have been exercised against the Jewish people.
Miller slips into this form if fiction in several of his plays. Many of them turn out to be a form of fiction called "pathos" and yet they are sold as tragedy. The problem with pathos is that the people involved never have chance to save themselves and in fact become pathetic.
Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman and now Newman in Focus are examples of this distortion that fail as a legitimate form of the dram or novel.