Synopses & Reviews
Yiddish is everywhere. We hear words like nosh
, and schmutz
all the time, but how did these words come to pepper American English? In Yiddishkeit: Jewish Vernacular and the New Land
, Harvey Pekar and Paul Buhle trace the influence of Yiddish from medieval Europe to the tenements of New Yorkand#8217;s Lower East Side. This comics anthology contains original stories by notable writers and artists such as Barry Deutsch, Peter Kuper, Spain Rodriguez, and Sharon Rudahl. Through illustrations, comics art, and a full-length play, four major themes are explored: culture, performance, assimilation, and the revival of the language. The last fully realized work by Harvey Pekar, this book is a thoughtful compilation that reveals the far-reaching influences of Yiddish.
Praise for Yiddishkeit:
and#8220;The book is about what Neal Gabler in his introduction labels and#8216;Jewish sensibility.and#8217; It pervades this volume, which he acknowledges is messy; he writes: and#8216;You really can't define Yiddishkeit neatly in words or pictures. You sort of have to feel it by wading into it.and#8217; The book does this with gusto.and#8221; and#8212;New York Times
and#8220;Yiddishkeit is as colorful, bawdy, and charming as the culture it seeks to represent.and#8221;
and#8220;every bit of it brimming with the charm and flavor of its subject and seamlessly meshing with the text to create a genuinely compelling, scholarly comics experienceand#8221;
and#8220;Yiddishkeit is a book that truly informs about Jewish culture and, in the process, challenges readers to pick apart their own vocabulary.and#8221; and#8212;Chicago Tribune
and#8220;a postvernacular tour de forceand#8221;
and#8220;A fascinating and enlightening effort that takes full use of the graphic storytelling medium in an insightful and revelatory way.and#8221; and#8212;The Miami Herald
and#8220;With a loving eye Pekar and Buhle extract moments and personalities from Yiddish history.and#8221; and#8212;Hadassah
and#8220;gorgeous comix-style portraits of Yiddish writersand#8221;
and#8220;Yiddishkeit has managed to survive, if just barely, not because there are individuals dedicated to its survival, though there are, but because Yiddishkeit is an essential part of both the Jewish and the human experience.and#8221;and#160;
and#8212;Neal Gabler, author of An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood, from his introduction
"The hearty hardcover is a scrumptious smorgasbord of comics, essays, and illustrations, edited by Harvey Pekar and Paul Buhle, providing concentrated tastes, with historical context, of Yiddish theater, literature, characters and culture." and#8212;Heeb magazine
"Dick and Jane are all grown up, and they're living in the real world-and it's full of tsuris (troubles). That's the premise of this hilarious little book, which functions both as a humorous tale and a genuine guide to a language with a sentiment and world view all its own. Jane is married to Bob and has two perfect children. Dick schmoozes with business people over golf: 'Schmooze, Dick. Schmooze....' Their sister, Sally, who teaches a course in 'Transgressive Feminist Ceramics,' can see that life is not perfect, even though dear Dick and Jane cannot. Their mother has a stroke ('Oy vey, Jane,' says Dick when he learns the news). Bob's best friend's wife is having an affair because the best friend himself is gay (''Tom is more than gay, Sally,' says Dick. 'He is overjoyed.'... 'Oy Gotenyu oh, God help us,' sighs Sally.') And purse dealers take advantage of the gullible. The brief story is priceless, but the equally funny glossary is a great reference to which readers can return any time they need the right Yiddish word-or whenever they need to determine whether the jerk they just saw is a putz, a schmo or a schmuck." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
- In true primer fashion, Yiddish With Dick And Jane tells a simple story: Grandma gets sick and Dick and Jane's sister Sally visits. The book also features subplots about such ethical dilemmas as gift-giving etiquette and marital infidelity.
- The comedy intensifies in the glossary, which defines (with chutzpah aplenty!) each Yiddish term introduced in the text.
- Ellis Weiner's recent books include a novel, Drop Dead, My Lovely (NAL, March 2004), and The Joy of Worry, with illustrations by Roz Chast (Chronicle, June 2004).
- The 35 watercolors, in their wholesome retro simplicity, brilliantly capture the contemporary world of Dick and Jane (now grown up) and stand in comic counterpoint to the text.
"Oy vey"--this is a primer like no other. In an inspired parodic twist, the two least Jewish characters in American literature spout some of the edgy, ironic Yiddishisms that have become part of the American vernacular. 35 full-color drawings.
Jane is in real estate.
Today is Saturday.
Jane has an open house.
She must schlep the Open House signs to the car.
See Jane schlep.
Schlep, Jane. Schlep.
Schlep, schlep, schlep.
In text that captures the unque rhythms of the original Dick and Jane readers, and in 35 all-new illustrations, a story unfolds in which Dick and Jane--hero and heroine of the classic books for children that generations of Americans have used when learning to read--manage to express shades of feeling and nuances of meaning that ordinary English just can't deliver. How? By speaking Yiddish, employing terms that convey an attitude--part plucky self-assertion, part ironic fatalism. When Dick schmoozes, when Jane kvetches, when their children fress noodles at a Chinese restaurant, the clash of cultures produces genuine hilarity.
About the Author
Ross MacDonald is a contributing editor of Virginia Quarterly Review and a contributing artist for Vanity Fair. His award-winning illustrations have appeared in the New Yorker, Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal, and Rolling Stone. He was also the subject of a one-man retrospective at the New York Times. He lives in Newtown, Connecticut.
James Victore is an independent graphic designer based in New York City whose clients include Moët & Chandon, Target, Amnesty International, the Shakespeare Project, the New York Times, and MTV. He has won an Emmy for television animation, and gold and silver medals from the New York Art Directors Club.