A Woman of Uncertain Character: The Amorous and Radical Adventures of My Mother Jennie (Who Always Wanted to Be a Respectable Jewish Mom) by Her Bastard Son

Clancy Sigal, Author . Carroll & Graf $25 (289p) ISBN 978-0-7867-1748-4

Screenwriter Sigal (Frida ), a Renaissance man blacklisted in Hollywood and active in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, draws from his tempestuous childhood in the 1930s in gangland/union-busting Chicago. This vivid, poignant and political memoir depicts his complicated, beloved mother, a "crazy bohemian" Russian Jewish émigré immersed in the politics and mores of her time (she is now deceased). Jobless but never manless, Jennie Persily, youngest of 10, settled on Manhattan's Lower East Side, attended lectures given by John Reed and Emma Goldman, and fashioned her politics after theirs. An organizer for unions, she called her first strike at 13. An unwed mother at 31, she brought Clancy with her as she traveled the country by train, organizing. Along the way there were many men (and some women), and close calls with police and gangland hoods over her union activities. Clancy's childhood was peppered with characters like Bugsy Siegel, Meyer Lansky and the "abusive Swede," his favorite of his mother's lovers. Gritty prose worthy of any classic noir film propels this engaging, often tender memoir of a larger-than-life woman and her self-deprecating but accomplished son, who still misses their shared adventures. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/27/2006
Release date: 04/01/2006
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-7867-1995-2
Ebook - 289 pages - 978-1-4804-3709-8
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