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Peep Show Paperback – June 1, 2010

4 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Braff's second novel (after The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green) is a straightforward family drama set amidst an extreme clash of cultures. In the mid 1970s, 16-year-old David Arbus is caught between his mother, whose Hasidic faith is becoming more and more central to her life, and his father, who runs a Times Square porn theatre. A seemingly modest act of rebellion makes David's choice for him, and he quickly finds himself enmeshed in the business of adult entertainment. While his increasingly ill father resists innovations like peep booths and in-house blue movies, David takes photography gigs and tends to his dad. His attempts to maintain a relationship with his sister bring David into sporadic contact with his mother, but rather than reconciling, mother and son only grow further apart. Braff brings together two very different cultures with sympathy for both, but the slim novel leaves little room to adequately develop each member of the family, and, as a result, the story doesn't quite sing. Nevertheless, David and his parents present an intriguing contrast in the struggle to uphold a set of values and the painful necessity of compromise. (June)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Braff's second novel, following The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green (2004), posits an interfamilial culture clash of epic proportions. In 1975, 16-year-old David Arbus, a photography buff about to graduate from high school, is fed up with attempting to straddle the chasm that separates his divorced parents' radically different worlds. His mother, a recent convert to a Hasidic sect, insists that David follow suit, while his father, who owns and operates a Times Square burlesque house, encourages his son to join him in the family business. Most 16-year-old boys would find this choice an easy one to make, and so does David, but he fails to foresee both the agony of separation from his mother and younger sister and the shocking similarity he will find in the two worlds. His father—drawing a rigid moral line between striptease and stripper and refusing to add a new revenue stream by installing peep shows in the lobby—turns out to be every bit as much a purist as his mother. Meanwhile, as David sits in the male-only room at a Hasidic gathering and peeks through the curtain separating men from women, he realizes that peep shows come in more than one variety. Braff makes the most of the comic potential inherent in his outlandish premise, but he sees well beyond the laughs. This is a powerful, sensitively told coming-of-age story about the ways in which rigid worldviews extract their pounds of flesh from us all, especially the young. --Bill Ott
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books; 1 edition (June 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565125088
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565125087
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,646,320 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael R. Fee on May 27, 2010
Format: Paperback
I thought Braff's first book was excellent, but figured he'd hit the sophomore/non-memoir slump -- but he seems to have avoided that typical fate! I had to warm up to the characters and the book itself, but by a third of the way in I was hooked -- total sympathy even for the father and, yes, the mother. These are real, human characters, just close enough to archetypes to make them accessible, but never typical.

At first blush the subjects would seem far from accessible -- Hasidism and the evolution of porn in 1970's New York -- but the family draws you in, and soon you're learning about those worlds without knowing it, and while still feeling for the characters.

Great read. Just challenging enough to make you think, but eminently readable, even comfortable, especially after the first few, familiarizing chapters.
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Format: Paperback
I just finished Joshua Braff's newest book Peep Show and loved it. Braff knows how to weave a story through interesting characters. He builds his people so that you really get to know them. I like books that have a story line...not just flowery descriptions that go nowhere. Joshua's Peep Show is classically built storytelling. This will be a great conversation starter for book groups.
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By uh.... on February 18, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Braff reminds me of Jonathan Tropper, except not as good. Peep Show was an okay book — not good, but not bad either. It's mostly about a teenage boy trying to find acceptance from his family, not my type of story. But to each their own.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It's only a slight exaggeration to say Peep Show could be the latest (and best) incarnation of Catcher in the Rye, but turned inside out. In a media environment that saturates us with imagery that parents are absent or irrelevant in teens' lives (Harry Potter, Twilight, pretty much any show about teenagers on Fox or the CW), Josh Braff reminds us of the intense struggle that most actual teenagers have between wanting to rebel and wanting their parents' approval, not to mention the physical and emotional difficulty of real detachment. David Arbus has Holden Caulfield's fascination with the now-bygone era of New York's sexual grit, but Braff imbues his character with a more believable and interesting indecision toward it. Much of the supporting cast - including the entire Hasidic community that his mother embraces and the carnival of smut moguls who surround his father - is composed of one-dimensional characters that exist solely to populate the wonderfully complex lives of David, his sister, Debra, and his parents. Each of the four is wonderfully nuanced and human, though much of his mother's character is left to the imagination. This is a fine, fine piece of writing for our time.
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Format: Paperback
Full disclosure, I'm Joshua's wife. So, yes, I'm biased. But, I'm also an English lit major - so those two get balanced out, right? This book is a perfect summer read - beautifully written, fast-moving, visual. It's fun and funny. And heart-wrenching at times. You won't forget the characters and you won't regret buying it. Great for book club discussions. P.S. insider tip, catch Josh reading this summer or fall near you - he's hysterically funny.
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Format: Paperback
The second novel by Joshua Braff, Peep Show, is a fast moving story that makes for a perfect summer read. The main character is funny, empathetic, and just "bad" enough to make him an interesting character study. Somewhat similar to his first novel, this book is still a fun read.
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Format: Paperback
Joshua Braff delivers again! Braff wrote this book in such a way you see the characters in real live people in your own life. Great read, made me sad to finish. It so nice to read a book you can throw yourself into and relate to the characters. And the fact people would write a review bashing Braff for seeming like he's bashing the Jewish community. My response to that is, his family is Jewish, he can. Great book I highly recommend it and also The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green, also written by Braff. I give him 5 stars for both books and can not wait to read his next novels.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed reading this book. For me, it's always about the characters & you couldn't help but root for the characters in this one- two completely opposite worlds, Hasidism & the porn industry, pull apart one family. How they all react to these two extremes throughout the book is what grabs you & makes you keep reading. Both worlds are drawn with respect which makes it infinitely more interesting. A lesser writer would have made either or both into a caricature & Braff resists that throughout. A great read!
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