Wednesday, April 28, 2010


As you might guess, this is a Jewish family saga, but, while I was reading it, I didn't realize that it's apparently intended as a tightly woven collection of stories. Although I think it was supposed to be funny, I was certainly glad that Rose Markowitz was not my mother. She imposes herself on her grown sons, Ed and Henry, and is jealous of her daughter-in-law's mother, who is equally annoying and overbearing. When Ed and Sarah's daughter Miriam's wedding invitation list more than doubles because her grandmothers insist on inviting all their old friends, I became totally exasperated. I guess disciplining of unruly grandparents is a lost cause and not necessarily beneficial to family harmony. Rose has selective amnesia, remembering what she wants to remember, from her childhood, and also more recent items, such as the religious affiliation of Henry's future bride, Susan. There is one really hilarious section of the book, however. Ed, an academic authority on the Middle East and terrorism, attends a conference in an earth-sheltered compound in California that turns out to be something like an AA meeting. When Ed is called on to tell his personal story, his rant against the structure of the conference, or lack thereof, is priceless.

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