Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Done: "What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank" by Nathan Englander

Done: What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander, 2012, 9780307958709.

Committee book.  I tried listening to Ministry of Special Cases four years ago, got bored, then quit.  This was five or six short stories.  I forget how many stories and already sent the book back to Waterloo.  At least I think I sent the book back to Waterloo.  I hope it's not still sitting at home.

Literary fiction.  Pretty decent.  Not great, not moving, tedious at time.  All Jewish tales.  I mean "Jewish tales" because religion or culture all play an important role in each story.  Here is a recap of the stories I recall right now.

"Beat Up Kids" story.  Jewish kids in 1980s Long Island have an anti-Semite bully picking on them.  The guys try to fight back and are unsuccessful for a variety of reasons.  The immigrant janitor at the local shul is recruited by the kids to teach them self-defense.  The kids only end up winning against the goon when recruiting an older neighborhood teen to slug the bully.

"Lawyer in peep show" story.  Fantasy story of a lawyer who has left the religion and mainstreamed his name.  Lawyer goes into one of the last Times Square peep shows on a whim.  Lawyer pops a boner at the show and orgasms in his pants.  When the sliding panel hiding the strippers goes back up he sees his previous rabbis there.  He sees his mother.  Lawyer takes place of stripper.

"Anne Frank" title story.  Guy and wife welcome her old high school pal to their Florida home.  Gal Pal and husband are Ultra Orthodox who moved to Israel years ago.  Florida Husband not found of Orthodox people.  FLordia Husband not sure about how to act.  Humor made of these misperceptions.  Humor crack about sex through a sheet.  Orthodox couple are stoners.  All four smoke marijuana and play Holocaust obsessive Florida Wife's game of Trusty Goyem: who would protect or hide me if Jews were being hunted down again?

"Buy my daughter" story.  Woman in remote settlement in 68 or 73 war.  Her neighbor comes over with deathly ill infant.  Neighbor asks to sell the sick child.  Neighbor is at wit's end and wants to follow old superstition that selling the girl will trick death.  Woman 'buys' girl.  25 years later a city has been built up and Woman's husband and sons have all been killed in wars or car wrecks.  Woman demands Neighbor's daughter as her own.  Trial with rabbis confirms that she owns the girl.  My thought? What the fuck?  Tell the crazy old bat to pound sand.  Why does the young lady (the daughter) stay with Woman from that time on?  Leave town.  Get a job elsewhere.

I don't recall the other stories and won't look them up online.  You can do that yourself.

Also, I'm not going to provide literary analysis, so read the damn stories and do your damn homework yourself instead of Google trolling.

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