cover image Yiddish with Dick and Jane

Yiddish with Dick and Jane

Ellis Weiner, Barbara Davilman. Little Brown and Company, $14.95 (104pp) ISBN 978-0-316-15972-2

Dick and Jane are all grown up, and they're living in the real world-and it's full of tsuris (troubles). That's the premise of this hilarious little book, which functions both as a humorous tale and a genuine guide to a language with a sentiment and world view all its own. Jane is married to Bob and has two perfect children. Dick schmoozes with business people over golf: ""Schmooze, Dick. Schmooze...."" Their sister, Sally, who teaches a course in ""Transgressive Feminist Ceramics,"" can see that life is not perfect, even though dear Dick and Jane cannot. Their mother has a stroke (""Oy vey, Jane,"" says Dick when he learns the news). Bob's best friend's wife is having an affair because the best friend himself is gay (""'Tom is more than gay, Sally,' says Dick. 'He is overjoyed.'... 'Oy Gotenyu oh, God help us,' sighs Sally."") And purse dealers take advantage of the gullible. The brief story is priceless, but the equally funny glossary is a great reference to which readers can return any time they need the right Yiddish word-or whenever they need to determine whether the jerk they just saw is a putz, a schmo or a schmuck.