Sunday, February 2, 2014

This Book Will Change Your Life - Zinsky the Obscure by the Ilan Mochari.

Should we begin by talking bias and subjectivity? Influences? Or fathers? Should we riff on the awesomely Jewey tones and textures of Zinsky the Obscure by the Ilan Mochari, easily the most Jewey thing we've read since the equally Jewey League of Somebodies by the Samuel Sattin? And what is Jewey anyway, much less the Zinsky himself? A mix of humor and suffering, sardonic wit, self-deprecation, striving, and needy desperation? Mothers and masturbation? Roth meets Dickens meets Lenny Bruce? It is all of that. It is also talking Bruce and Saul Bellow and Meyer Lansky with our father, and the pride he took when talking about Jews. The first, the best, the toughest, the smartest, and in the case of Lansky, the rarest of mob guys: a mobster who actually retired before dying of old age. Old age! Only a Jew. And so it is with Mochari and Sattin, and Roth before them. They are writers of not so great men, who still believe they can be great, and maybe even are, despite the suffering, the mothers, the fathers, the abuse, and the sense that they are being persecuted. Because who's to say they aren't? Or haven't been? Don't all Jews know from persecution? So yes, we are biased, and raised to embrace, if not consume the Zinsky in all his funny, sad, abusive, intelligent, fucked-upedness, but that shouldn't obscure what Mochari has done in creating the sweeping story of one man's life, if not in full, than at least the beginning of a life that might still get better, if only incrementally, and at best by achieving some hard-earned contentment.

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