Lipshitz 6, or Two Angry Blondes
Plume, 2007 (2006)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD
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Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto
ipshitz 6, or Two Angry Blondes
is unlike any turn-of-the-century immigrant novel I have ever encountered and T Cooper is unlike any author I have every read. This book will at once grip you and also have you wondering '
What the ... ?
' the whole way through.
he first part is simple enough. in 1907, Esther Lipshitz and her family arrive on Ellis Island from Russia, ready to start a new life. Unfortunately, things get off to a bad start when their extremely blond, non-Jewish looking son Reuven is lost getting off the boat. Even though she feels bad for not feeling too bad that her son is missing, Esther is desperate to get down to her beloved brother Avi in Amarillo, Texas. After half a year of living with her cousin, Esther and her husband, along with their remaining children head for Texas, while Reuven remains in New York. Esther is happy in Amarillo with her brother; however, when he dies, she clings to the idea - that a con-artist palmist put into her head - that Reuven is still alive and will be known the world over. Esther comes to believe that the man who just accomplished the first trans-Atlantic flight, Charles Lindbergh, is her son. Esther's life becomes so consumed with Lindbergh that she ignores her own family and spirals more and more into her fantasy world.
ast forward more than half a century and we meet T Cooper, the great-grandson of Esther Lipshitz. Much like Esther, T idolizes another blond, the rapper Eminem. T is putting off writing a book by hosting bar and bat mitzvahs impersonating the famous rapper when a letter arrives in the mail that his parents were killed in a car accident. While in Texas for the funeral, T puts Eminem aside for a while and starts to get in on the Lindbergh craze by building a model of
The Spirit of St. Louis
while doing a little growing-up. However, once back in New York, T is again the entertainer Slim Lindy, until an accident brings to life an even more confusing identify issue.
he two parts of this book are so completely different that it's hard to imagine they were written by the same person. Esther's story has the nostalgic quality of many novels of that time period, but it moves so much faster, making the first part zip by, much like the pilot who obsesses Esther. The second part does such a one-eighty that it is at first hard to get into. While Esther, though unique, is in many aspects typical of a character in an assimilating to America story, T Cooper is a modern-day person, expounding on contemporary issues while cussing up a storm. However, while Esther's story makes for a good book club discussion, T's part of the book is what will keep the reader remembering
. By the end, the reader is left wondering what is real, which makes for an even more intriguing discussion.
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