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An American Family [Kindle Edition]

Peter Lefcourt
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $3.99

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Book Description

The sprawling narrative of five siblings, born in the 1940's, beginning on the day John Kennedy was shot and ending on 9/11. Between these two iconic dates, we follow the fortunes, love affairs, marriages, divorces, successes and failures of the Perls, an immigrant Polish-Jewish family, from the Lower East Side of New York, to Long Island and beyond.

The oldest, Jackie -- a charming, womanizing attorney -- drifts into politics with help from the Nassau County mob. His younger brother, Michael, a gambler and entrepreneur, makes and loses fortunes riding the ebb and flow of high-risk business decisions. Their sister, Elaine, marries young and raises two children before realizing that she wants more from life than being merely a wife and mother and embarking on a new life in her forties. Their sensitive and brilliant half-brother, Stephen, deals with the growing consciousness that he is gay in an era that was not gay friendly. Stephen goes to Vietnam as a medic, comes home, becomes a writer, and survives the AIDS epidemic of the eighties. The baby of the family, Bobbie, high-strung and rebellious, gets pregnant at Woodstock, moves to San Francisco as a single mother during the "Summer of Love," then winds up in Los Angeles as a highly-successful record producer.

In a larger sense this book is not merely the story of one family, but the story of most immigrant families - Jewish, Italian, Irish, African-American - as they enter the melting pot and emerge as a new generation, as well as the story of the tumultuous years of the second half of the twentieth century.

Product Details

  • File Size: 777 KB
  • Print Length: 454 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #619,530 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Peter Lefcourt can really tell a story! May 13, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Peter Lefcourt's new novel, "An American Family", which is published in e-book form only, is one of the best novels I've read in the last five years or so. It's not "fine literature", but rather the compulsively readable story of three generations of a family on Long Island. Lefcourt begins his book on Nov 22, 1962 and ends it on Sep 11, 2001. The time in between - those years of Woodstock, drugs, the Vietnam War, the gay movement and AIDS crisis and many other pieces of 40 years of American society - is written by Lefcourt with not one false step.

Peter Lefcourt is the author of seven or eight previous novels. He's a witty, perceptive writer who always writes about topical interests. His book, "The Woody", is hands-down the best political satire I've read and I'm still waiting for the movie version of his novel about gay baseball players, "The Dreyfus Affair", which has been optioned by two studios. But in this book, "An American Family", he lets up on the satire and instead writes with a breadth of wisdom about the ten main characters and many more secondary ones in a sweeping story that will speak to all of us who have experienced the changes in American society.

I don't know why this novel has only been issued in e-book form and why it was priced at the very reasonable price of $3.99. There are some spelling errors in the text and the name of one of the minor characters has been changed in one scene, but I think those editing errors are more often found in e-books than in print copies. But this is simply a family saga that should not be missed by anyone with an e-reader. Simply superb.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An American Family I can relate to April 23, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I loved this book. More than that, I lived it. It brought back the drone and bicker of endless childhood seders with my Russian-immigrant parents and Yiddish-speaking grandparents. It made me recall my least Americanized uncle, who was not comfortable with table manners, and who, when he spoke, did so loudly and with his mouth full of food, lobbing gefilte fish shrapnel clear across the table with alarming accuracy. I, being the youngest, would sit at the kid's folding card table with my cousins and drink cherry soda in lieu of of wine. I hated wearing the dressy wool pants which made my legs itch, so my mother had me wear my pajamas underneath them, which actually did the job. But I never developed a taste for cherry soda.

Perhaps because of my own childhood experiences, Lefcourt's characters come alive for me; three-dimensional, passionate and flawed....especially Jackie, who definitely resides somewhere in my family. And Bobbie, the rebellious hippie, also belongs there, along with the usual smattering of over-achieving doctors and artists. Despite the diverse personalities, the different adult paths taken, the retained real or imagined wounds inflicted, the family somehow endures, held together by a mixture of guilt, love and DNA.

This book is a significant departure from the author's previous works, with their edgy satirical indictments of Hollywood and the media. There's a touch of that in Bobby's adventures in the music industry, but most of the humor of An American Family is softer, exisiting in the disconnect between the immigrant older generation and the eagerly-assimilating children. I don't know if Jewish families are any more colorful, neurotic, or empathic than other ethnic groups. But even without my pre-existing mind-set, this is a family epic that will touch your heart.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An American Family May 26, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very well written book about a family in the 1950's. It captures the time period in an accurate way that touches a nerve in those who have lived through it. The author makes us care about the characters and what they are living through.
Thoroughly enjoyable.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful and moving story March 31, 2012
By Ted H.
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Peter Lefcourt, known principally for his razor sharp satirical novels, shows another color in this engrossing, colorful and moving story about an immigrant Jewish family coming of age in the second half of the twentieth century. Using two iconic dates in modern American history -- November 22, 1963 and September 11, 2001 -- as a parenthesis, he tells the story of the Perls (nee Peretzes) of Garden City, Long Island, principally through the shifting points of view of five siblings born in the 1940's. Their journey covers four tumultuous decades of enormous social change. We experience their individual triumphs, disappointments, victories, and mistakes, their loves, marriages, affairs and divorces, and along with it all the larger fortunes of the family. Lefcourt's real subject is the malleability and cohesiveness of the family -- that no matter what the pressures on it are, it survives. Perhaps not in its original shape but in some recognizable and emotionally sustaining manner.

There is a great deal or humor and warmth in the telling of this story. Moreover, it is not merely the story of this one first -generation Jewish immigrant family, but the story of all immigrant families -- Italian, Mexican, Iranian or Vietnamese -- and, in that sense, it is the story of the land of immigrants that America is. Like "Roots," it stays with you after you've finished reading it. It is more than the sum of its parts. No matter who you are or where you come from, you will recognize your own family in this book and be both amused and touched.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book. Brilliant author.
Published 1 month ago by Patricia D.
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an excellent tale of a Jewish family and the events that ...
This is an excellent tale of a Jewish family and the events that influenced all of our lives from the 1950's to 2011. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Chelan
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good writer strikes again
Peter Lefcort.... who wrote the Dreyfuss Affair is one of the wittier writers around and this, his latest, continues moving his reputation in that regard forward.
Published 16 months ago by Cagney & Lacey's WebSquad
4.0 out of 5 stars family saga touches and draws you in
A family, not your own but you quickly become a member and recognize the truth of each character, the authenticity . Read more
Published 19 months ago by swede girl
2.0 out of 5 stars Who cares
Not sure why I was enticed to read. Not a particularly interesting family with no redeeming characteristics I could discover.
Published on April 27, 2013 by Vintage Racer
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
I was hooked right from the first sentence. I was in 5th grade at the beginning of the novel. What a wonderful trip down memory lane. Read more
Published on March 30, 2013 by Joanne
4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Story
When President Kennedy is assassinated, people across the United States were shocked. This is no different for the Perl family in Long Island. Read more
Published on November 8, 2012 by Lisa
3.0 out of 5 stars Good read
This is not the best book you will ever read, but it still intrigued me enough to read it all the way through. Read more
Published on October 15, 2012 by KLowe
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read
I really enjoyed this book and looked forward to my nightly sessions. The fact that I was unable to wake up next morning still didn't stop me from reading long into each night... Read more
Published on October 9, 2012 by looop50
5.0 out of 5 stars The American Family: meet the Perl Family
Peter Lefcourts: The American Family

The legacy of every family and the people within the framework of each family are all different, unique and special to those within... Read more
Published on July 23, 2012 by Amazon Customer
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More About the Author

Peter Lefcourt

Peter Lefcourt is a refugee from the trenches of Hollywood, where he has distinguished himself as a writer and producer of film and television. Among his credits are "Cagney and Lacey," for which he won an Emmy award; "Monte Carlo," in which he managed to keep Joan Collins in the same wardrobe for 35 pages; the relentlessly sentimental "Danielle Steel's Fine Things," and the underrated and hurried "The Women of Windsor," the most sordid, and thankfully last, miniseries about the British Royal Family.

He began writing novels after being declared "marginally unemployable" in the entertainment business by his agent. In 1991 Lefcourt published "The Deal"--an act of supreme hubris that effectively bit the hand that fed him and produced, in that wonderfully inverse and masochistic logic of Hollywood, a fresh demand for his screenwriting services. It remains a cult favorite in Hollywood and was one of the ten books that the late John Gotti reportedly ordered from jail.

Subsequently he has divided his time between screenplays and novels, publishing "The Dreyfus Affair" in 1992, his darkly comic look at homophobia in baseball as a historical analog to anti-Semitism in fin de siecle France, whose film rights The Walt Disney Company has optioned twice and let lapse twice in paroxysms of anxiety about what it says about the national pastime and, by extension, Disneyland.

In 1994, he published "Di And I," a heavily fictionalized version of his love affair with the late Princess of Wales. Princess Diana's own step-godmother, the late Barbara Cartland, herself no slouch when it came to publishing torrid books, declared the book "ghastly and unnecessary," which pushed the British edition briefly onto the bestseller lists. "Di And I" was optioned by Fine Line Pictures and was abandoned after Diana's untimely death.

"Abbreviating Ernie," his fourth novel, was inspired by his brush with notoriety after the appearance of "Di And I." At the time he was harassed by the British tabloids and spent seven excruciating minutes on "Entertainment Tonight." He was subsequently and fittingly bumped out of People Magazine by O.J. Simpson's white Bronco media event of June, 1994.

Lefcourt's research on a movie about the 1995 Bob Packwood scandal was the germ for his fifth novel, "The Woody." He saw the former senator's battle with the Senate Ethics Committee as evidence of the confusion in America regarding appropriate sexual behavior for politicians. Packwood became a sacrificial lamb by getting his dick caught in the buzzsaw of the zeitgeist.

His subsequent book, "Eleven Karens"--an erratically erotic fictional memoir of his love affairs with eleven women, all of whom happened to be named Karen, was published in 2003. He is still defending himself in a number of law suits brought by several of the apparently insufficiently fictionalized Karens.

He followed that with "The Manhattan Beach Project," a nominal sequel to The Deal, in that it follows the adventures of that book's hero, the intrepid Charlie Berns, who finds himself broke and attending meetings of the Brentwood chapter of Debtors Anonymous. Charlie manages to sell a reality TV show about the daily life of a warlord in Uzbekistan ("The Sopranos" meets "The Osbournes") to a secret division of ABC, named, appropriately, ABCD, charged with developing extreme reality TV series from a clandestine skunkworks in Manhattan Beach.

His latest book is entitled "An American Family," and it tells the story of an immigrant Jewish-American family on Long Island, beginning on the day John Kennedy was shot and ending the day before 9/11. This multi-generational saga, told from the point of view of five siblings born in the 1940's, traces the Pearl family's odyssey into the melting pot of twentieth century America.

He continues to dabble in film and television. He was the writer/creator of the Showtime TV series, "Beggars & Choosers," a darkly comic send-up of the television business. More recently, he spent a season in the writers' room of "Desperate Housewives," where he helped concoct some of the Byzantine plot lines of that infamous dark suburban soap opera.

Praise for Lefcourt's novels:

"You can count the wonderful novels about Hollywood on two hands...The Deal is one of them."
--LA Times

"...A hilarious romp through the world of national politics. [Lefcourt's] hapless hero is the perfect foil for all that's gone wrong in Washington...An irreverent, amusing read."
--USA Today

"This neon farce lights up the political spectrum to the left and the right of the primary colors...The Woody is like the best of farces, less interested in mocking historical figures and more keen to turn its light elsewhere."
--LA Times

"A good-natured romp through the dream factory of the 1990's."
--The New York Times

"Lefcourt flirts with offensiveness but never goes all the way."
----Kirkus Reviews

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