Recently, JWA hosted a fascinating webinar with Dr.Keren McGinity on "Gender Matters: a New Framework for Understanding Jewish Intermarriage Over Time." Keren is the author of Still Jewish: A History of Women and Intermarriage in America, and is the Mandell L. Berman Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Contemporary American Jewish Life at the University of Michigan's Frankel Center for Judaic Studies.
Usually, we have used this space to review new books (see recent reviews of The Book of Dahlia, Away, and The Zookeeper's Wife), but I can not let the opportunity pass to write a bit about Amy Bloom's non-fiction book, Normal, which was first published in 2002. I had initially put Normalon the Jewesses with Attitude Summer Reading List as a whim - an aside, even, just something to accompany my reading of Away if I decided that I liked Amy Bloom. I liked Away a lot, and now, having read Normal, I like Ms. Bloom so much more.
Those of you whose lives don't involve a weekly update on what new comics have come out this Wednesday might not be familiar with Y The Last Man, a 60-issue comic book (10 volume graphic novel), whose much anticipated final issue just came out last month. The premise of Y The Last Man is that a mystery plague instantaneously wipes out every man and male mammal on planet Earth except for Yorick Brown, a 22 year old magician/slacker, and his capuchin monkey, Ampersand.
I made the mistake of picking up The Zookeeper's Wife and reading it as though it were a novel. Maybe I was just in that headspace because the first two books on the Jewesses with Attitude Summer Reading List were fiction. The Zookeeper's Wife, however, is a genre-bending piece of prose that defies the conventions of history, memoir, and naturalist writing, all of which it employs.
I have a love/hate relationship with memoirs. I start them with a healthy appetite for the juicy details of the author's life, but about halfway through, I develop a sudden distaste and a mounting sense of outrage: who does this person think s/he IS? Such arrogance, to assume that I would care about all these details!
So the thing about getting married is that your precious bookshelf space, which you had reserved for brilliant novels written by brilliant writers, gets quickly engulfed by an ocean of cookbooks, which your mothers, aunts, and family friends are sure you'll just love.