Monday, June 15, 2009

Jews to whom nothing untoward happened (not)

Lisa New's memoir, Jacob's Cane, will be published in the fall by Perseus Books. I read it this past weekend in proofs and found it to be dazzling. I was asked to write a jacket blurb and here it is:

Elisa New’s brilliant memoir prefers convergences to chronology. That “history is a random business, made out of wanderings, guesses, and old glue” is the major idea—and also method—of the book, and its themes converge, surprisingly and pleasurably and emotionally—every which way. One moment we happily tear at Lithuanian rye jagged with caraway, its crust so tough it tugs the bones in the jaw, the next moment our guide is asking a man on the tractor to point out the spot where they’d shot the Jews. The Jews, of course, of New’s convention-defying family. These people are real, troubling every stereotype. Here is the gorgeously written, marvelously structured memoir of a person who’d been made as a child to understand why her whole clan comported themselves as though they were persons to whom nothing untoward had ever happened. But something most certainly did happen…

You can hear recordings of Lisa reading from the memoir - linked here.