Saturday, February 10, 2007

A nod for a book.

I'm currently reading "Lipshitz 6, or Two Angry Blondes" by T. Cooper. The hardcover was released last year and the paperback this year. I saw the book sitting among the stacks of weekly tabs that are laid out near the obituaries desks at the front of the fifth floor of our office building. Typically books are put on the cart in the cafeteria (in free-for-all style) or piled up on the fourth floor with DVD promos and un-edited versions of hit prime time TV shows that we've either reviewed or thrown aside. But this book was not in either of those spots. It was next to the plant amid the stacks. Its bright neon orange/red cover clearly caught my eye and the fact that it was in crisp condition sort of made me wonder if maybe someone had set it there on the way to the bathroom and intended on retrieving it. Alas, I picked it up and took it. No clue what it was about, I read the back cover and realized that the cover spoke so little about the book, but flipping through it, it struck me as a Vonnegut-style text with interspersed documents and texts that break up the story.

Then I started reading it. I can't put it down. It's drawn me in and it's nothing like Vonnegut, in fact, it's like nothing I've ever read. It's very much a typical narrative, but in a very unique way. Maybe it's the story that has me clouded and able to excuse the fact that it's just a story. But I happ'd upon the author's Web site and an article in the New York Times re: the book. It turns out it's based loosely on the author's family history. The back cover reads:
"Upon landing at Ellis Island in 1903, Esther and Hersh Lipshitz discover their son Reuven is missing. The child is never found, and decades later, Esther becomes convinced that the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh is her lost boy. Esther's manic obsession spirals out of control, leaving far-reaching effects on the entire Lipshitz lineage. In the present, we meet T Cooper -- the last living Lipshitz -- who struggles to make sense of all that came before him and what legacy he might leave behind."
I'm struggling with whether the author is a man or a woman, not that it matters, but the photos I see of T Cooper make me think the author is a woman. The gender-neutrality on the official Web site is fascinating, and the choice on the back cover to choose "him" makes me wonder if I'm insane.

Perhaps I'm drawn to the story because it discusses the pogroms of Russia and the immigration of a Jewish family to the U.S. I'm only 78 pages in, and it has sat next to me at work the whole night purely taunting me. In so few pages there has been such tragedy, yet such hope. I have no clue where the book will go and whether my passion will remain as fiery as it is right now. I can only hope so, of course.

The reviews on are incredibly mixed. I'm unfamiliar with the author and his/her other works, so I can't really say. If I am clouded by my inherent need to read Jewish-American Fiction -- every. last. bit of it. It's what I do!