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They Called Me Mayer July: Painted Memories of a Jewish Childhood in Poland before the Holocaust Hardcover – September 24, 2007
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"Brimming with rich narrative detail. . . . This unique project is a blend of memoir, oral history, and visual interpretation."--"Artdaily.org"
"An inventive, lively collection."--Suzanne MacAulay"Journal of American Folklore" (04/01/2013)
The popular new release from Sebastian Junger. Learn more
Top Customer Reviews
At once naive and sophisticated, Kirshenblatt's art captures the energy and diversity of life as it was lived in prewar Apt (Opatów in Polish), a shtetl in southern Poland. Shunning nostalgia for accuracy, the paintings are rich in ethnographic detail and show every area of activity, some with the artist as a blue-clad schoolboy looking on. The 93-year-old Toronto artist, who started painting in his seventies, is becoming internationally known; his work was recently exhibited at the Galician Jewish Museum in Kraków.
The text of this book, which includes 200 full color reproductions, represents another kind of achievement. Each painting tells a story, evoking memories of people, trades, and events. Mayer Kirshenblatt collaborated with his daughter, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, a scholar of Eastern European Jewish culture and folklore, on a captivating text recording his almost encyclopedic range of memories of the town up to 1934, the year he departed for Canada.Read more ›
The paintings provide a tableau of pre-war Jewish life, including celebration of life events, Sabbath and holidays. However, this is not an overly sentimental memoir of the Old Country. The painter wasn't always good little boy who minded his parents and teachers - he skipped school to check out all parts of his town, including many of the grimier aspects. The painter's sly graphical sense of humor is well matched by the text, where his daughter (after spending years hearing her father's stories) did a lovely job of echoing his youthful voice. There are, of course, some pretty terrible events that are depicted - some of them based on the painter's imaginings of events that happened after he left Poland as a teenager. But overall, there is more to laugh about than cry - many of the stories are very funny.
I saw the exhibition of this art work at the Jewish Museum in NY. It was a wonderful show, and made me run back to read the book again. By the way, Mayer Kirshenblatt (z"l) passed away last month.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book together with its paintings present for me an unique picture of Apt my mothers home town.Published 4 days ago by Amazon Customer
I will keep this book forever. My step-fathers parents immigrated to America from Poland in the 1800's. It is nice to read what it was like before the Holocaust.Published 15 months ago by Peggy
This book is like listening to a beloved grandfather or uncle tell about his life. Only, it is so much more interesting than my relatives and not nearly as judgmental. Read morePublished on February 5, 2012 by M. S. Fenton
Although there's little I can add to the previous reviews, let me just say that the paintings are beautiful and the memoir is wonderful. Read morePublished on August 14, 2011 by A voracious reader
I bought this book after visiting Mayer July's exhibition in Jewish museum, NY. Both, the exhibition and the book are remarcable!Published on September 18, 2009 by Alexander Chervinsky
I love this book! Mayer is incredibly talented and his memories and reflections are a window onto the past that is otherwise lost to us. Read morePublished on June 16, 2009 by J. Strauss