SCHLEPPING THROUGH THE ALPS: My Search for Austria's Jewish Past with Its Last Wandering Shepherd

Sam Apple, Author . Ballantine $23.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-345-46503-0

Wandering shepherds, anti-Semitism, sexual insecurities and a scythe-wielding Austrian all play a part in Apple's lukewarm debut, but most prominent is his own neurotic personality as he explores the life of Hans Breuer, a Yiddish folksinging shepherd in modern-day Austria. The book begins with Salon writer Apple attending one of Breuer's concerts in New York City, and continues as Apple travels to Austria to shepherd with Breuer, learn more about Breuer's Jewish background, and investigate the current political climate in Austria and what Apple finds to be its underlying anti-Semitic leanings. Apple's intentions for this work seem clear, but as he jumps from topic to topic—shepherding, Breuer's personal history, his own failed relationships and a brief affair with a woman he meets in Vienna, Austria's political past and present—the book loses any comprehensive theme. While the work's subtitle promises insight into a country that rarely attracts attention, Apple tends to diminish his cultural discoveries with such blithe comments as, "Let all the young attractive women in the country work through their guilt in bed with me." Apple is at his best recounting his childhood growing up Jewish in Texas with his grandmother, and while these reminiscences are short, they offer the most insight. Photos. (On sale Mar. 29)

Reviewed on: 01/17/2005
Release date: 03/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-345-47773-6
Open Ebook - 204 pages - 978-0-307-49052-0
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