Monday, July 16, 2012

An American Family by Peter Lefcourt

I hadn't read any of author Lefcourt's other books but  I looked at some reviews and saw that they were mostly satires. This one was supposed to be a detour from that, so that was good enough for me. 
As I thumbed through the book, I noticed lots of small paragraphs and they were not conversation. I wondered how it would read. As I began, I noticed how easy these little snips of writing flowed right into the next. I really enjoyed Lefcourt's style. The characters were many, but easy to remember. 
The story is about five generations of the Perl family, Polish-Jewish immigrants. The story spans from the early sixties until 2001 and encompasses all the American history in-between. The patriarch, Nathan Perl has five children. Three from his first marriage to Ida and two from his second marriage to Lillian. The oldest is Jackie, a lawyer who has gotten himself mixed up with corrupt city officials & businessmen. Michael is an entrepreneur, stuck in a desk job because he is married w/children. Elaine, seems to be the most secure of all the children but as she gets older, even Elaine makes some changes. Stephen, the scholar, is a reluctant gay man in the time of AIDS and Bobbie the baby sister , is what you would call a hot mess who ends up a rich record producer ! There are several other characters who add to the craziness ( I mean this in a good way) of this family, Uncle Meyer and Yetta and various in-laws. I usually shy away from novels with so many characters, most authors cannot give you a real sense of dynamic when there are so many. But Lefcourt pulls it off in grand style. I don't want to give the plot away, but I will say that I shed a few tears at the end of the book, for all kinds of reasons. For the Perl family, because the author made them so real to me... for my own family, because the Perl's are every family.....just so many reasons. 
 I really enjoyed this book. I am so glad I read it, it also is worth re-reading at some point. Now, that says something about it, doesn't it ?
Note: The only thing I found kind of odd, was that the photo on the cover was taken from another novel, by Dan Fante, about his father. I assume IT IS John & Dan Fante. Kind of weird to grab a photo that was just on a novel not too long ago. Whoever is responsible should get whipped with a wet noodle, as we used to say!

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