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Jew Boy: A Memoir Hardcover – September, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 402 pages
  • Publisher: Fromm International (September 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0880642521
  • ISBN-13: 978-0880642521
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #371,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"I experienced my first wet dream on a Sunday night after reading a Dick Tracy comic strip on the front page of the Sunday edition of the New York Daily News," writes poet Kaufman (Who Are We?)in this visceral memoir of how his Jewish identity has influenced his sexuality, writing and imagination. Indeed, for much of his journey to adulthood, self-acceptance and becoming an artist, the concepts of sex, writing and the imagination have been inseparable for Kaufman. Growing up in the Bronx with a deeply depressed mother who was a Holocaust survivor, Kaufman came to grips with his Jewish heritage in disquieting ways: he found himself sexually turned on by photos of German death camps, formed a clique in high school that jokingly called for "death to the Jews" and created "The Purple Jew," a comic book that featured a Jewish superhero even as Kaufman understood that "more than anything in the world, I wanted not to be Jewish." He is able to combine humor and pathos with a cold-blooded sense of irony in his chilling descriptions of uncovering his identityAwhether it is through going to a brothel to have sex for the first time ("I still felt like a virgin, only contaminated by paid-for sex") or remembering, as he terrorizes Palestinian children during a stint in the Israeli army, how his mother was captured by German soldiers ("I know it's not the same"). Frightening and deeply moving, Kaufman's memoir is a remarkable document. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Some critics have dubbed the new memoirs of traumas and tragedies being churned out by publishers "pathographies" --packaged tales of woe that inexplicably linger on best-seller lists and naturally inspire successors. Kaufman's own story of a Bronx childhood dominated by his mother, a traumatized Holocaust survivor, departs from this genre in important aspects. He's not recounting misery for misery's sake but leading the reader down the long, winding path he walked before discovering his identity as a Jew and a writer. Jew Boy runs long at more than 400 pages, and details of the author's life as a soldier in Israel, a recently sober poet beginning a career in San Francisco, and later undertaking a literary tour of Germany in the midst of neo-Nazi riots are woefully short compared to lengthy descriptions of childhood and adolescent antics and traumas. Still, this vivid portrayal of how the psychological scars of the Holocaust are passed from one generation to another is also an inspiring portrait of a young man's literary awakening. Ted Leventhal
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
5 star
67%
4 star
25%
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0%
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1 star
8%
See all 12 customer reviews
The stories of children of Holocaust survivors are still, for the most part, to be written.
Gail Burkholder
Kaufman published a book of poems American Cruiser that was one of the highlights of the new scene.
alexander laurence
Kaufman's a great weaver of words, he is relatable to me, the style of writing is conversational.
carol ingersoll

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David Abrams on December 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Jewish literature has at last found its Jean Jacques Rousseau! Alan Kaufman's Jew Boy breaks the lock-step of modern literature and takes the reader, Jew and non-Jew alike, into a new world! I have never read a book as visionary as Alan Kaufman' Jew Boy. His language is sizzling, his insights razor-edged, his honesty a revelation in this age of knee-jerk political correctness. The author, who is definitely a rebel in the lineage of D.H.Lawrence,Henry Miller, Genet, has made a pioneering effort to create from a Jewish standpoint an authentic autobiographical narrative of self that transcends the culturally indoctrinated, the dutifully historic, the memoiristically ethnic, in favor of a heart-pounding, gut-wrenching, mind-illuminating tale of such profound wonder and tragically hilarious truth that the reader--me--put down "Jew Boy" feeling forever transformed, braver and more joyful for having dared to enter this man's astonishing world.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By alexander laurence on April 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Alan Kaufman is a writer who now lives in San Francisco. He grew up in the Bronx in the 1950's. He was involved in some important publications and was one of the people who brought Spoken Word to the public's attention. While traveling all over the world, Kaufman found time to join the Israeli Army. At the same time his writing has always been very important to his life. He was involved with many journals and was known as the editor of the Jewish theme magazine Davka.
He also edited most importantly The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry. This is an anthology that traces all outlaw movements in poetry from Whitman to Slam. It is one of the best-known anthologies. Even though Kaufman spent most of his time in New York City, in 1990 he came to San Francisco to join forces with the San Francisco spoken word scene that revolved around Cafe Babar. Kaufman published a book of poems American Cruiser that was one of the highlights of the new scene.
As media attention came unwillingly to spoken word and freedom of speech in 1993 during the San Francisco Poets strike, Kaufman was one of the people at the center of the storm. Along with Gary Glazner, Kaufman helped put San Francisco on the map in terms of poetry slams, activism, and MTV culture. As Kaufman made a place for himself in the literary world, he brought American poets on tour abroad, spreading Spoken Word to Europe and helped many new voices get heard by organizing several readings locally and nationally. Most notable of these was Wordland. At the same time he was dissatisfied. Secretly he worked for years on what would soon become a memoir. Jew Boy is a book about growing up in New York City and being the son of a Holocaust survivor. It is a brilliant book. It is a confession. It reads like a novel of growing up and learning life's lessons, through the eyes of a poet. Jew Boy is an important book for any time, and especially right now, in the world that we find ourselves in after 9-11.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Carole Barkley on July 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book was both fascinating and repellant. It gave me a window into a very male world, and made me ever more grateful that I was born female. Kaufman comes across as unlikable, whiny, arrogant, violent, unstable, rude, and very self-centered. It is of course this focus on himself that made this brutal self-revelation possible; most people would be far too embarrassed to reveal so much about themselves. I found myself wondering how anyone could really be this disgusting and end up a productive, creative, and respected poet--as he has. Obviously, there was more to his life than this memoir tells us. But Kaufman has chosen to skip over the "normal" parts of his life and has given us those which make us think, "I sure don't like this person." Perhaps he is challenging the reader to separate his work from his person (which is pretty interesting, considering he castigates those who do that with anti-Semites Ezra Pound and Ernest Hemingway). And boy, can he write! His description of playing football, for example, was remarkable poetry-capturing the intensity, the violence, the absurdity, and the fascination of a quintessentially male experience.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Simon on February 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I applaud Mr Kaufman for having the courage to expose the paranoia, racial distrust and cultural instability associated with Post Holocaust Judaism. My own childhood was similar. Though my parents were never in any concentration camp, they ascribed to a similar type of cultural victimology and I was compelled to be a good example for "my people". I empathize with his bewilderment and fear at doing anything which might rekindle his mother's sense of insecurity and marvel at how he managed to extricate himself from such a traumatic background and restructure his life without guilt. I congratulate the author for having finally escaped a self destructive cycle.
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Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed reading the book. It is a wonderful story, that reads like a novel rather than a memoir. I work today in the same neighborhood were the author spent his childhood, it is amazing to realize how much it changed, but you see also the same ethnic conflicts, and the struggle of different immigrant groups to set a foothold in their new country. I highly recommend the book, it illustrates the journey of a young man to find a path for his life, which he finally finds it in the written word.
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Format: Hardcover
Mr. Kaufman's new book, Jew Boy, is one of the most gripping memoirs I have read in the past few years. His tale is told without bathos, retains it's emotional and factual truths yet never comes off as reportorial. The stories of children of Holocaust survivors are still, for the most part, to be written. Mr. Kaufman provides excellent leadership for these authors. I sincerely hope that he will shortly be on the JCC/YMHA book tour circuit!
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