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Lipshitz Six, or Two Angry Blondes Paperback – January 30, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Cooper performs the unparalleled feat of addressing white rappers, Jewish heritage freaks and Charles Lindbergh fans with her second novel (after Some of the Parts). The story begins in 1907, when Esther and Hersh Lipshitz inexplicably lose their blond boy, Reuven, while disembarking at Ellis Island. They are fleeing the pogroms of czarist Russia and are headed for Amarillo, Tex., where Esther's brother Avi lives. An indifferent mother, Esther gradually comes to believe that Reuven is, somehow, Charles Lindbergh. The last third of the novel jumps from Esther's death to a gender-bending, self-reflexive coda. A male narrator and stalled novelist named T Cooper is working in New York as an Eminem-enamored DJ for bar mitzvah parties when his parents die in a bizarre car accident. T's reluctant return to Amarillo to oversee the funeral and the estate rekindles his interest in writing about his grandmother Miriam (Esther's daughter). Cooper the author bridges the obvious chasm between the atmosphere of Esther's story and the attitude of the coda by reaching out to a larger history. She takes apart the usual Jewish heritage tale and the themes of assimilation, touching them with both postmodern parody and Chagallesque folk magic. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Cooper's ambitious second novel begins with the loss of a child. Entering Ellis Island, Russian Jew Esther Lipshitz loses track of towheaded Reuven. Esther knows immediately that she will never see her blond boy again. But decades later, she finds him. Reuven was stolen by a Gentile family, Esther learns. He now goes by the name of Charles Lindbergh, with whom Esther is immediately obsessed. Flash-forward three generations. Esther's descendant, T Cooper, is married and living in New York City. T's wife wants a baby; T mostly wants to become a world-famous Eminem impersonator. Strangely, it is T (the character) who sounds inauthentic--when the novel switches to T's first-person story, the narrative voice suddenly becomes disappointingly inarticulate and affected. And Esther is such a fascinating, well-drawn character that readers will miss her presence after T takes the stage. With its multigenerational immigrant story and meditations on gender, Cooper's book seems almost self-consciously in the mold of Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex. It doesn't quite live up to that, but this story of children lost and found is nonetheless often gripping. John Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Btw, I listened to it on CD and thought the reader, Kirby Heyborne, did an excellent job.
It's a shame, as the first part of the book - a third-person, multi-generational account of one Russian-Jewish family's emigration to America - certainly kept my interest. The Lipshitz 6, Hersh and Esther (T Cooper's great-grandparents) and their 4 children, arrive at Ellis Island in the first decade of the 20th century, and in the crush of people, Esther loses their second oldest son, Reuven. He is never recovered, and Esther obsesses over him for years. She visits a palm reader years later, and through the hints he gives her, she comes to believes that her boy was taken in by Gentiles, and grew up to be Charles Lindbergh.
A well told story, for the most part, excluding a completely gratuitous scene describing a tryst between the oldest Lipshitz boy, Ben, when grown, and another man during the ticker tape parade given for Lindbergh in New York. Ben as a character nearly disappears after this event, and it was almost as if he only existed as an excuse to include the descriptive, almost explicit sex scene. But even if that segment had been cut, the rest of the narrative never quite achieves a level of involvement necessary to distinguish it from the hordes of other family sagas. It's truly more of a framework for the second part of the book - a meta-fictional account exploring the death of Cooper's parents and the implication of the family's history on the present (and conceivable) progeny. However, the obscenity-laced mixture of anger and superiority Cooper shoves in our faces while contemplating life and the world around him feels like an attack - almost as if it's unbelievable to the author that I've been stupid enough to enjoy the first part of the book.
I am not Cooper's intended audience. As a DJ/rapper/Eminem impersonator in demand on the wealthy Bar Mitzvah circuit, Cooper's persona carries an obligation to alienate squares like me, a task thoroughly accomplished in the book's second half. In the final chapters, Cooper acts like an insecure child, one that feels they must heap insult and shock onto any innocent bystander that's foolish enough to lend a helping hand. By the time I got to the revelations of Cooper's gender ambiguity, carefully disguised until the last few pages, it felt like one last hysterical declaration flung in my face.
Had I known about Cooper's self-absorbed rant in the second half, I wouldn't have bought the book - but there isn't any indication of it in the synopsis, and is only alluded to in the two editorial reviews on Amazon. It's fine for T Cooper to write whatever she wishes, and I'm sure that many people will find it entertaining. I'm just not one of them. I have hundreds of other books waiting for me, books I'm looking forward to, and getting fooled into buying this one feels a bit like a sucker punch. It's not likely to happen again.
i would have enjoyed the second section of the book--in fact if it had enormous potential to be developed by itself into a mature work had the author drawn out more of the other characters. i enjoyed this part of the work and would have like to have learned more about the characters from this period of esther's life. this part needed development.
the third part is a complete waste and absolutely destroys the flow of the book. there is so little connection to the previous 315 pages (aside from biology) that it disrupts any connection one may have felt previously. it definitely should have been a stand-alone work and would have been interesting as a short story, but instead it just sticks out like an indulgent literary exercise. and a badly written one at that.
overall this work reads like the author had three ideas for a work and couldn't decide which direction to go it, so all of them were used when two of them should have been discarded. do not waste your money on this.
similar) stories with two very different voices into
one page-turning novel. Unique characters, combined
with a unique writing style make for a very
interesting, witty, and enjoyable read.