Jew Boy: A Memoir

Alan Kaufman, Author
Alan Kaufman, Author Fromm International $27 (400p) ISBN 978-0-88064-252-1
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-88064-275-0
Paperback - 467 pages - 978-1-84119-343-4
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""I experienced my first wet dream on a Sunday night after reading a Dick Tracy comic strip on the front page of the Sunday edition of the New York Daily News,"" writes poet Kaufman (Who Are We?)in this visceral memoir of how his Jewish identity has influenced his sexuality, writing and imagination. Indeed, for much of his journey to adulthood, self-acceptance and becoming an artist, the concepts of sex, writing and the imagination have been inseparable for Kaufman. Growing up in the Bronx with a deeply depressed mother who was a Holocaust survivor, Kaufman came to grips with his Jewish heritage in disquieting ways: he found himself sexually turned on by photos of German death camps, formed a clique in high school that jokingly called for ""death to the Jews"" and created ""The Purple Jew,"" a comic book that featured a Jewish superhero even as Kaufman understood that ""more than anything in the world, I wanted not to be Jewish."" He is able to combine humor and pathos with a cold-blooded sense of irony in his chilling descriptions of uncovering his identity--whether it is through going to a brothel to have sex for the first time (""I still felt like a virgin, only contaminated by paid-for sex"") or remembering, as he terrorizes Palestinian children during a stint in the Israeli army, how his mother was captured by German soldiers (""I know it's not the same""). Frightening and deeply moving, Kaufman's memoir is a remarkable document. (Sept.)
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