Thursday, April 22, 2010


Now this is a book!

The eyecatching cover snagged me as I passed by the “new books” shelf at the library. It is not normally a book I would think to read – but the enticing words on the cover sold me. In case you can’t see well enough in the picture, here’s what the front cover says: The 188th Crybaby Brigade. A Skinny Jewish Kid from Chicago Fights Hezbollah. Below this is a quick review by an author I respect: “A great tale, a Jewish jarhead. It’s a book about war, peace, marriage, the Middle East, titty twister, and Spam. A funny, thoughtful and poignant story.”

Now who could pass up a read like this!

Before I go into a little more detail, I will say that it helps to have some knowledge of Judaism and be willing to accept a few episodes of somewhat indelicate goings-on (this is mainly for old women like me who are from a more prudish generation.) Once you come to terms with this, you are in for a good romp, one that will not only make you laugh but also worry, muse, gasp and cheer. The ending is dynamite.

The author, Joel Chasnoff, was brought up in a conservative Jewish household in Chicago. He attended a Jewish day school, began learning Hebrew at age 5 and says of himself, “I genuinely loved being a Jew.” After several trips to Israel, he decided that it wasn’t fair that “we American Jews called Israel our homeland but left Israelis to defend it” and he made up his mind that instead of just praying for Israel, he would fight for it. So he did.

You need to know that Joel is presently a writer AND a comedian with stage and screen credit. He knows how to write a scene and squeeze every bit of humor (or pathos, or fear, or….) out of it. To his credit, his story rings true, not forced, which makes you not get tired of the humor but just keep wanting to see what preposterous thing is coming next.

I couldn’t put the book down and then was mad at myself when I came to the end of it. The book is a refreshing break from my usual book fare. I hope this fellow keeps up the writing end of his career; I’ll certainly be one of his fans and followers.

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