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IN BRIEF

Fiction

August 08, 1993|SUSAN SALTER REYNOLDS

SCHOOL FOR PAGAN LOVERS by Edmund Keeley. (Rutgers: $19.95; 295.) It's the summer of '42, except it's the summer of '38. Sixteen-year-old Hal Gogarty has moved with his family from Upstate New York to Salonika, Greece, where he attends the German School. His parents have hired a tutor, Magda Sevillas, half-Greek and half-Jewish, three years his senior, to help him with his German. But poor Hal is gone the moment he sees her coming up the walk. Gone, flattened, irretrievably in love. First love. The bad kind. His young identity, already unmoored by the move to Greece, by two new languages, and by the strange shadow of war and anti-Semitism is handed over to this woman, still a child herself, and already the victim of a careless lover. When she runs away from her parents, who want her to marry a gold merchant, Hal follows her to the remote island of Thassos. And they have together for a few weeks that wonderful period between still being children and really growing up (i.e. doing without), also a brief lull in world history before world war. Everything stops--it's just sun and rocks and the sea and Hal and Magda making love everywhere. And then everything floods in: parents, university, the war, anti-Semitism to split them apart once and for all. It's a long short story, hard to put down, if a little predictable.

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