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“An American Family” Book Blog Tour and Excerpt

by Nicole on July 14, 2012

Name of Product: An American Family by Peter Lefcourt

Where to Buy: only via Kindle from Amazon

Price of Product: $3.99

Description of Product:“What did it mean to become American in the mid-20th century? Peter Lefcourt goes beyond assimilation to take a nostalgic and dramatic look at what makes us truly American in AN AMERICAN FAMILY: A Novel (Amazon e-book; $3.99; May 1, 2012). Lefcourt, known for his best-selling comic novels — The Deal, The Dreyfus Affair, Di & I, Abbreviating Ernie, The Woody, Eleven Karens and The Manhattan Project — takes a more serious approach here as he revives the settings, styles and sentiments of the 20th century.

Roots, The Godfather, Angela’s Ashes, The Joy Luck Club, My Antonia, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Middlesex are just a few of the great family sagas that have evoked our shared immigrant experience. AN AMERICAN FAMILY is told through the shifting points of view of the five Perl siblings born in the 1940’s, between the two iconic dates of the last fifty years: the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the catastrophe of 9/11. Within this time frame the Perl family is swept up in the sweeping cultural changes of those years: the Vietnam War, the sexual revolution, rock and roll, drugs, women’s liberation, and the civil rights movement.

During this turbulent time, we meet the Perls — Meyer, the immigrant tailor with a weakness for Yiddish theater actresses, whose nephew, Nathan, would become a fabric cutter on Seventh Avenue and the patriarch of the clan; Jackie, the young lawyer with a weakness for women, alcohol and Italian-American “clients”; Michael, the business genius intent on building his fortune; Elaine, the married school teacher who wants more from her life than being merely a wife and mother; Stephen, the brilliant and sensitive artist who struggles with his talent and his sexuality; and Roberta, the rebel hungry to experience perhaps a little too much of what life has to offer.

Lefcourt reaches back to his own family and memories to inform this saga. “Though this is not an autobiographical novel, it is, in a larger sense, a ‘cultural autobiography’ – specifically, that of Jewish-Americans born in the 1940’s. Our experiences are similar to that of all immigrants – Italian, Irish, Vietnamese, Iranian, etc. – as we all navigate the tide of our new culture.”

Peter Lefcourt is a refugee from the trenches of Hollywood, where he has distinguished himself as a writer and producer of film and television. Among his credits are “Cagney and Lacey,” for which he won an Emmy Award; “Monte Carlo,” in which he managed to keep Joan Collins in the same wardrobe for 35 pages; the relentlessly sentimental “Danielle Steel’s Fine Things,” and the underrated and hurried “The Women of Windsor,” the most sordid, and thankfully last, miniseries about the British Royal Family. He is a 30 handicap golfer, drinks too much good wine, and has never been awarded the Nobel Prize for anything.”

Review of Product: The synopsis of the book was intriguing to me and as I read the book I was reminded of the fact that my mother’s own childhood was probably very similar to this one, with immigrant grandparents clutching the language of their homeland, Russia, while raising a family in America.  I love that the story spans generations and ends on September 11, 2011, such an iconic day for America.  The writing was fast-paced and exciting and once I got into the book it was hard to put down!

For more info on this blog tour and to catch the excerpts before this one, check out this post.

Excerpt: ““You know who’s cute?” Susan Braunstein said. “Norman Schecter.”

“Yech. He’s always blowing his nose.”

“It’s allergies.”

“What’s he allergic to? School?”

They two other girls laughed. Bobbie made people laugh. It made her feel good. One of her teachers told her parents on Open School Night that she was the class clown. Bobbie likes to entertain us, she said, and Bobbie wasn’t entirely sure it was a compliment.

“You going away for Thanksgiving?”

“No. We never do,” Bobbie said, thinking about next Thursday and seeing her two older half-brothers, Jackie and Michael. Mickey was bringing his girlfriend from Ohio to dinner. Bobbie had seen a photo of her an thought she was very pretty—serious looking, with dark hair, like Natalie Wood.

Susan Braunstein was still talking about Norman Schecter, when a voice came over the Public Address system. It was Mr. Hurwitz, the Assistant Principal.

“All students report to their home room. Immediately.”

He repeated the announcement three times, as kids got up, leaving their unfinished lunches. Why couldn’t they have a fire drill during Geometry?

I received a sample of this book to review. All opinions remain my own.

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