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Lisa Goldstein

Lisa Goldstein Isabel Glass(1953- )
Lisa Goldstein, who also writes under the name Isabel Glass, writes historical fantasy and magic-realism. She has won the American book award and has been nominated for several other prestigious awards. She lives in a 90-year-old house in Oakland with her husband Doug and her dog Spark. You can read excerpts of her novels at Lisa Goldstein’s website.

The Red Magician: A moving story about the Holocaust

The Red Magician by Lisa Goldstein

Winner of the National Book Award, Lisa Goldstein’s The Red Magician (1982) is such an unusual fantasy novel. I read it because Tantor Audio has just released the first audio edition of the book.

As the story begins, a young girl named Kisci is growing up in a small, isolated Jewish community in Eastern Europe. Her family’s rabbi is visiting Kisci’s home and expressing his displeasure at the way Kisci’s school is teaching Hebrew as if it were a common language. When Kisci’s father refuses to obey the rabbi’s command to remove his children from the school, the rabbi, who has some magical abilities, sets a curse on the school and its students’ families.

Soon after, a visitor named Voros appears in the village and Kisci’s family extends their hospitality... Read More

Strange Devices of the Sun and Moon: A charming historical fantasy

Strange Devices of the Sun and Moon by Lisa Goldstein

Alice Wood, a recently widowed middle-aged woman, is continuing her husband’s bookselling business in his stall in the courtyard of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Though Alice is liked by the other vendors in the courtyard, most think that, as a woman, she’s not equipped to run a business by herself. One of her competitors, a man named George, insists that she should sell her stall to him, or at least that she should marry him and let him run their combined businesses. Everyone knows that, with the exception of Queen Elizabeth, a woman needs a man around to run things.

But Alice is determined to prove George and her other detractors wrong and she continues to work with publishers to sell books and pamphlets (such as those by Thomas Nashe) to Londoners. Things are going well until her... Read More

The Uncertain Places: The quieter style of contemporary fantasy

The Uncertain Places by Lisa Goldstein

The Uncertain Places by Lisa Goldstein is the story of a family haunted by a long-ago pact with the fairies. Like all fairy tales, it’s also a story about human problems, so it’s easy to find yourself within these pages even if mysterious beings have never cleaned your house in the middle of the night.

In 1971, Berkeley students Will and Ben go to visit the eccentric Feierabend family who live in a rambling house in Napa Valley. Ben is dating the eldest Feierabend sister, Maddie, and wants to introduce Will to the second sister, Livvy. Will thinks Ben’s trying to palm off a less attractive “pale shadow” of Maddie, but when he meets Livvy, he’s smitten. As their relationship grows, so do the mysteries surrounding the Feierabends — and then something terrible occurs and Will must outwit the fairies to bring back his love.

G... Read More

Magazine Monday: Realms of Fantasy, April 2011

The April 2011 issue of Realms of Fantasy is identified as a “Special Dark Fantasy Issue.” The nifty cover illustration by Brom fits the theme perfectly. And there’s lots more Brom inside, including an interview by Karen Haber and a considerable number of examples of his work. This is a man who must use up his blue, gray, red and black paints with considerable speed -- but he never seems to use up his imagination.

The best story in this issue is about the Cthulhu Mythos, which has really been enjoying a renaissance these days. “The Strange Case of Madelein H. March (Ages 14-1/4)” by Von Carr is that rarity in fantasy, a story intended to be funny that actually will make you laugh. Maddie has been left in charge of the family home while her parents and her elder sister go on a trip to visit potential co... Read More

Real Unreal: Best American Fantasy 3: New authors for my watch list!

Real Unreal: Best American Fantasy 3 edited by Kevin Brockmeier

On a hypothetical chart, with high epic fantasy in the vein of J.R.R. Tolkien and Stephen Donaldson on one end and (for want of a better term) the magical realism of Gabriel García Marquez and Graham Joyce on the other, the twenty stories in the excellent Real Unreal: Best American Fantasy 3 fall, for the most part, close to or smack on the latter extreme of the scale. If you then add a y-axis, describing how pulpy a story is, everything in this collection would trend towards the end of the scale where the most accomplished and literary pieces of short fiction reside. Read More

More books by Lisa Goldstein

Lisa Goldstein The Red Magician, The Dream Years, Tourists, Stranges Devices of the Sun and MoonThe Dream Years — (1985) Publisher: A young Parisian surrealist writer and a beautiful, mysterious woman with whom he falls in love, are transported in time from the 1920s to the volatile time of the 1968 Paris riots.

Lisa Goldstein A Mask for the GeneralA Mask for the General — (1987) Library Journal: Five years after the economic collapse of the United States, the masked tribespeople of Berkeley retain a precarious hold on individual and intellectual freedom until two womenLayla the maskmaker and a newcomer called Marytake an unprecedented risk to bring down the totalitarian rule of America’s dictator, a man known as The General. In transplanting the consciousness of the 1960s to the near-future, the author of Dream Years has created a brilliant parable of nonviolent revolution.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsTourists — (1989) Publisher: In a faraway land called Amaz, a family whose ordinary appearance masks hidden conflicts discovers things that change them forever.

Lisa Goldstein Isabel Glass The Alchemist's Door, Dark Cities Underground, Walking the Labyrinth, Summer King Winter FoolSummer King, Winter Fool — (1994)  Publisher: When the god of summer falls in love with the human world and refuses to let the seasons change, Valemar, a young courtier, begins an unwilling quest that leads him to magic, love, and a throne.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsTravellers in Magic — (1994)  Publisher: Travellers in Magic brings together for the first time all of Goldstein’s short fiction, including “Cassandra’s Photographs”, nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula Awards, and several other works that were included in various best-of-the-year anthologies.

Lisa Goldstein Isabel Glass The Alchemist's Door, Dark Cities Underground, Walking the Labyrinth, Summer King Winter Fool

Walking the Labyrinth — (1996)  Publisher: Lisa Goldstein weaves an enchanting tale of contemporary magical realism as only she can do. “Walking the Labyrinth” is a novel of many questions and many more answers, the story of one woman’s struggle to separate truth from illusion as she discovers family secrets that will change her life forever.

Lisa Goldstein Isabel Glass The Alchemist's Door, Dark Cities Underground, Walking the Labyrinth, Summer King Winter FoolDark Cities Underground — (1999)  Publisher: A young journalist is sent to interview a man who, as a child, was the central character of a series of classic children’s books written by his mother. But the man’s scary, fantastic world is real — and they are sucked them in to strange adventures underground, where love and death threaten.Lisa Goldstein Isabel Glass The Alchemist's Door, Dark Cities Underground, Walking the Labyrinth, Summer King Winter Fool

The Alchemist’s Door — (2002)  Publisher: Fleeing to Prague to escape a demon attack, sixteenth-century alchemist and astrologer John Dee assists a mystic rabbi in the creation of a clay Golem that will defend the city’s Jewish Quarter and help prevent the fulfillment of a terrible prophecy.