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The Jerusalem Syndrome: My Life as a Reluctant Messiah Paperback – October 9, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press; 1st edition (October 9, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767908104
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767908108
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #623,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Named for a psychological condition that often afflicts visitors to the Middle East, The Jerusalem Syndrome provides a vivid and comedic sense of what it's like to believe you're a conduit for the voice of God. In this case, the affliction belongs to standup comic Marc Maron, whose brief, engrossing memoir recounts a lifelong parade of revelation and delusion. In New Jersey, in New Mexico, and in Israel (among many other places), Maron has found God in encounters with Beat poetry, cocaine, the Coca-Cola logo, and conspiracy theories. Brief chapters sketch Maron's picaresque adventures, all narrated in a relentlessly neurotic style: "I had just made a horrible but good decision." Maron's decidedly nontraditional perspective on Judaism--"Believing in the grand plan can take the edge off if you let it, because it really doesn't end well for anyone"--may strike some readers as blasphemous. To others, it will seem revelatory, and for the many in the middle, it will be both. --Michael Joseph Gross

From Publishers Weekly

Stand-up comic Maron, a regular on late-night TV, has adapted and expanded his off-Broadway show of the same name into a darkly funny memoir. Only after a particularly manic trip to Israel not "to get Jewy" but to visit a friend did Maron conclude that he had long had Jerusalem Syndrome, a psychological condition of mystical self-aggrandizement. After all, he'd always felt special; at Hebrew school in Albuquerque, he first recognized his "unique talent for driving people to the edge." In college, he found a spiritual focus for his desires: an obsession with the beats and an embrace of their rituals (bad poetry, mind-altering fluids). After graduation, he moved to Los Angeles and worked as a doorman at the Comedy Store ("a dark temple of fear and pain"), where he spent too much time with cocaine and the self-destructive genius comic Sam Kinison. He made pilgrimages to the Philip Morris headquarters and the Coca-Cola Museum, which reflected the "almost religious faith" of brand loyalty. He became a professional comic and, ultimately, "came out as a Jew on stage" and "eased into my anger over time." Finally, in Israel, carrying a camcorder to protect himself from "unmediated reality," Maron found himself on the brink of a spiritual crisis and moments of primal peace. Three years later, he reflects, "the cure... was essentially living life." He closes with a redemptive story about performing a benefit for his old Albuquerque synagogue: "Faith in the face of disappointment is only enhanced by laughter in the face of pain. That's my belief. That's my job." There are some narrative gaps here, but Maron is compelling enough to transcend them.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

Enjoy the trip and read the book!
D. J. Birnbaum
I don't know how much of this is true or exaggerated, but I thought most of this stuff was pretty stupid.
Jason
I've been a Marc Maron fan, like, forever--like BEFORE he was on Conan's show.
Hermgirl

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Eileen G. on November 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
In this fluid memoir Marc Maron manages to be self-aggrandizing and self-effacing at once, to good effect. He's got an eye and an ear for detail, and can comment wryly on marriage (for example) without ever being misogynistic. He writes that he was his Grandma Goldy's first and favorite grandchild - and that this designation and honor is sticking for life. You will laugh a lot, and admire Maron's ability to sometimes make lemonade out of lemons. In addition, Maron is more than willing to tell us about the silly, sad, and ridiculous jams he has gotten into - and how he found his way out. Maron is not only smart; he is kind and compassionate without ever being maudlin. This memoir, by an American comic with a deservedly bright future, is funny and sweet and well worth reading.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Michael Barrows on December 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
But really, if you can't take a joke, if you can't sympathize with others, if you refuse to give yourself an honest appraisal on a regular basis, if you've never taken a chance on a wild idea or a romantic urge, if you've never charged ahead of the crowd or hung back when the crowd surged ahead, if you've never gone down a different path, just to see where it would lead, you will be totally unable to comprehend what Maron is saying.

And he leaves a lot unsaid, expecting his audience to make some of the connections, as is necessary for all comedy. It's just that his leaps of logic are a little further and faster than most. And you have to adopt his view point. This is going to be refreshingly open and giving to some, and intensely uncomfortable for others.

One of my fellow reviewers here seemed to like all but the school days chapters. I felt that the humor and depth of the book maintained a fairly even keel throughout. Several other reviews seemed like simple personals attacks. From their ad hominem nature, with no specific reference to the book's contents, but posted after Maron had been broadcasting for a while (in fact, during the period that he had the top-rated morning show on radio - & then got fired), I suspect the freepers creep among us.

Those who fear the unchained mind will dislike this kind of humor most. Maron brings the light into Plato's Cave and who there will thank him? However, if you are a nice person with an occasionally nasty disposition, due to the tension of eternally searching -- & you're a little afraid it's all for nought? You will enjoy this greatly.

I was pleased to find this book, since it gives a lot of personal background as well as plenty of the kind of introspective comedy at which Maron excels.
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22 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Jason on June 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
I bought this because I think Marc Maron's standup comedy is hilarious. I caught a brief appearance of him on Comedy Central awhile ago and it took me several months to find out the name of the guy who made me laugh so hard. After finally finding out who he was, I found out he has a CD, Not Sold Out, and this book, The Jerusalem Syndrome. The CD is hilarious and I highly recommend it. Since no other CDs or a DVD of his standup is available (yet, anyway - fingers crossed!), I went ahead and got the book because he wrote it, not really knowing what it was about, with pretty high expectations.
The book is a fragmentary autobiography of some events in Maron's life, very little of which is directly related to his career as a standup comic.
The brief first chapter foreshadows the events that will occur later in the book during Maron's trip to Israel.
Chapters two through five cover Maron's life up to high school. I simply didn't find this stuff to be very interesting.
Chapter six covers Maron's college years, focusing on him adopting the Beat religion. The ideas and events in this chapter are very interesting, they're written about very well, and the chapter is very funny.
Chapter seven is another highlight of the book, covering the modest beginnings of his career as his comedian and his relationship (friendship is too strong of word) with Sam Kinison. Like the previous chapter the events here are interesting and funny, if not scary.
In chapter eight Maron recounts his foray into conspiracy theory, and how his credulity for that intellectual junk food led to him making a fool of himself. He does save some face, though, by turning his mind back on before the chapter is through.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Adam Smith on November 11, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have really gotten to know Maron through his podcast over the last 6 months and I really dig his take on things. Thought I would check out his book and really enjoyed. He is definitely a nutty dude, but real intense and funny. One of the best comedian memoirs out there, and there are a lot. This book really delves into the mind of a guy who has an extreme mind.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sobriquet on June 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
If you're not a Marc Maron fan yet, you will be after you read this book. It's a collection of hilarious autobiographical essays--smart, philosophical, and always entertaining.
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By Hermgirl on February 6, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Wow! What a tremendous book! I've been a Marc Maron fan, like, forever--like BEFORE he was on Conan's show. But I waited til now for some reason to read his autobiography, his other book, "Attempting Normal", is more like a gateway drug for the Marc uninitiated--it didn't suck, but it was somewhat familiar territory for me.

In this book Marc talks about his youth in Albuquerque, New Mexico, his college years, as well as the early days of his career in Los Angeles' famed Comedy Store.

What you will read here is that Marc Maron is actually a very spiritual guy--don't laugh, it's true. At one point he actually meditates.

Reading this, one will see the drive behind his manic, neurotic comedy, see the gestation and formation of the themes behind it. It was a great ride, I dug it!

There's your review, Marc, we good?
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