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Jewball Paperback – September 28, 2012
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About the Author
Neal Pollack is the author of the cult classic The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature, the novel Never Mind the Pollacks, and the memoirs Alternadad and Stretch: The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, he is a frequent contributor to the New York Times, Slate, Salon, GQ, Vanity Fair, and Maxim. He lives with his wife and son in Austin, Texas.
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Top Customer Reviews
Neal Pollack is a very talented author. You may remember his comedy and satire writing from the early days of the McSweeney's publishing world. Or, you may have read one of his hilarious and humanizing memoirs. Well, now he's written a real, proper smash-em-up novel with real characters and plots and both sex scenes and basketball scenes that will make your palms moist.
Buying this as an ebook is a steal - if you were buying this book from an international corporate conglomerate instead of directly from Neal, you would be paying 5 times as much.
B: A white supremacist
C: A huge basketball fan
D: Used to references to peach baskets (no, that's not a dirty term)
E: Aware of the healing properties of brisket
"Jewball" moves fast as heck, bouncing from character to character, city to city, as fast as the starring 1930s Philadelphia basketball team does. The characters are complicated -- the protagonist is no one-note hero -- and there's a lot of action on an off the basketball court.
Even if I weren't a fan of Neal's previous work, the concept here would have caught my eye and interested me. And, as an author-sympathizer, I will always do my best to support indepdendent publishing. So if you're up for a great, fast, intelligent read with a bit of blood, history, and a good dose of smart-ass, download this book (or get the paperback, which I understand is in the works as of this review date).
-- G. Xavier Robillard, author of Captain Freedom
I was leery when I first saw this book on Amazon's virtual bookshelf. I couldn't tell whether the title was pejorative or respectful. But based on the book's description and the low price at the time, I decided to give it a whirl. I'm glad I did.
A goy like me had no idea of the role that basketball played for urban Jews in the early 20th century. Unlike games like football that require large fields to play, basketball can be played on city playgrounds and inside gymnasiums, which made it the perfect game for big cities.
Jewball is the story of young Inky Lautman who is recruited to play in the SPHA:
"If no one played basketball quite like the Jews, then no Jews played it quite like the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association. People respected them when they traveled around. But in Philly during the SPHA's heyday, which lasted from the mid-twenties until the mid-forties, they were heroes..."
I loved this story. I loved the characters and I loved the setting. It takes place during the pre-war years in and around Philadelphia. I loved the exposure to a culture I'm not completely familiar with. Luckily I read it on my Kindle so I could look up a lot of the Yiddish words and phrases that were foreign to me.
Writer Neal Pollack admits to taking some liberties with the history, but at the end of the book he includes a "Notes on the History" section where he clears up the facts versus his fiction. And aside from a few parts that used a little too much kitsch for me, I thought Pollack's writing was great. He struck a very comforting balance between noir, romance, and sports.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was a fascinating little book. As one reviewe3r said, I too learned a lot about a period in time I had thought I know about but didn't. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Cycist
Great read , can't imagine g Ian why they want more wordstodescribe this book I sad audits good it's goodPublished 10 months ago by Nik
Funny, thoughtful, and disturbing. I recommend it for anyone interested in pre-war American-Jewish culture and anti-Semitic behavior in the 20th century.Published 13 months ago by Luke's NaNa
Interesting to follow Philly names and events since I am a native of Philly. Not great literature but a good read.Published 17 months ago by Allan Samuels
I knew most of these people, sat next to Eddie Gottlieb in synagogue when I was a child. Good presentation about the way things were. I sent a copy to each of my childrenPublished 18 months ago by Saul Eisenstat, MD