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review 2016-08-02 16:06
The man known as the "greatest novelist of the 20th century"
Proust: The Search - Benjamin Taylor

Deanna Tiao from Yale University Press reached out to me for a review of the following book.

 

Benjamin Taylor's Proust: The Search is a part of the Jewish Lives series from Yale University Press. This biographical account details Proust's journey as a writer and his penultimate work In Search of Lost Time. I have to admit that until I read this book the only thing I knew about Proust was that he was a wordy writer and Steve Carell's character from Little Miss Sunshine was obsessed with him. He was most certainly a flawed man who had to contend with poor health, prejudices against his sexuality, and preoccupation with his chosen craft. The majority of his time was either spent wooing young men or feverishly writing. It seems he was quite feverish in his wooing as well although all of his romances were of short duration. He was passionate, intelligent, and ambitious. While this book is a part of the Jewish Lives series, Proust was not in fact religious. His mother was Jewish and because of that he would often speak up for the Jewish people but as often as not he would stay mute when others would decry the faith...except in reference to Alfred Dreyfus. During the course of the Dreyfus Affair, as it later came to be called, Proust was very interested in the proceedings and outspoken in his beliefs that a miscarriage of justice had occurred. Up until this point, he had been mainly concerned with other writer's and their works but after this he began to reflect on human nature and the changes that occur over time. I've decided to give In Search of Lost Time a shot and I've added it to my TRL. Taylor has certainly hyped it up and only time will tell if it lives up to it. (haha joke about time haha) Fans of biographies will most certainly enjoy this and if you've never really given Proust much thought then a read of this book might just change your mind. 8/10

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2015-07-27 03:01
Review: Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman
Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots - Deborah Feldman

I’ve been a bad bad reviewer. I haven’t managed to read more than a single book this entire year. Okay, one and a half if I’m being honest…I am halfway through another. But, in my defense I did give birth and now have a 5 month old daughter. So I’ve been a teensy bit busy. But I found time to read! While I’m at work pumping milk for my baby, that’s a whole half hour that could be spent reading instead of browsing Facebook or playing Candy Crush.

 

This was a quick read but a good one. Feldman paints a vivid picture with her words and transports you directly to her world. I was engrossed in the story. One would like to think that things like this don’t happen in a free country, but alas it does. I lived through a similar religious experience (with a different religion of course) and was interested to see how much these experiences overlap. Not surprisingly, the answer is quite a lot. Religious abuse is a real thing.

 

While I am aware of the accusations of exaggeration and lying by the author, I personally choose to give the benefit of the doubt. People do behave this way. People in such strict religions do these kinds of things. And when someone dares to leave the flock, their former community throws mud all day long to try and discredit them. I can’t say for sure that is what is happening in this case, but it seems logical.

 

As a woman and a mother, I found the book infuriating. I can sympathize with how utterly out of the place the author felt in the world that she had been born into. Her yearnings for more were palpable. I found myself rooting for her to succeed and break free from what felt like such a confining life. I can’t say much more about this book except that I found it very compelling.

 

And now I hear someone yelling at daddy for a nursing, so I will wrap up. Hopefully I can make at least one more review this year…we’ll see lol.

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text 2015-05-23 05:38
Reading progress update: I've read 99 out of 272 pages.
Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots - Deborah Feldman

I've been much too negligent about blogging and reading lately....but then having a three month old will do that to you.

 

So far this book is really interesting. I was raised in a veeery strict religious household and I can identify with a lot of the author's feelings of being suppressed and smothered by what was expected of her as a good Jewish girl.

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review 2014-12-03 03:03
Review: Unorthodox
Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots - Deborah Feldman

Devoireh was born into the Satmar community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. As a Hasidic Jew, and a woman, she gives us a look into growing up in a tight and controlled environment, where everything from your dress to your every movement throughout the day is decided by the Rebbe and enforced by not only your parents but everyone around you. When Devoireh was young, her mother left - leaving her with her mentally disabled father. Raised by her grandparents, with a strict aunt looking in, Devoireh tried to fit in to the society around her while secretly reading English books - a forbidden practice as the Satmar Hasids believe that reading uncensored English texts will leave to sin. As she grew older, she slowly realized that Williamsburg was not the place for her, and neither was the Hasidic life.

I really enjoyed the story of Devoireh's transformation to Deborah, the author who brings us her story. From childhood to married life, from raising a child to leaving the life of an ultra-orthodox Jew, Deborah's journey is always interesting, sometimes sad, and you can feel her personality shining through the book. While I understand that this story is Deborah's story of growing up as a Satmar Hasid, and that the book is going to be biased by her own experiences, it still gives us a window into the life of a Hasidic woman.

 

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If you enjoyed my review, please help me share it by marking it as being helpful on Amazon. I have included the link to the Amazon review in the Source section at the bottom of this review.

Source: www.amazon.com/review/R2Z4A4YMKWAK8L
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review 2014-11-28 00:29
Review: Becoming Un-Orthodox
Becoming Un-Orthodox: Stories of Ex-Hasidic Jews - Lynn Davidman

Becoming Un-Orthodox is the story of Ex-Hasidic Jews who left the ultra-orthodoxy to become either modern-orthodox or to enter secular society. I really wanted to like this book, since the intricacies of the Haredi world interest me, as well as the stories of the people who left those communities. The individual tales were interesting, as the tellers struggled to understand the world around them and to find their way through the secular world that had previously been denied to them.

 

Unfortunately, there is so much repetition in this book. The author organized the book into different sections, with each section concentrating on a part of the "leaving" process, from when they first knew that the Haredi world wasn't for them, to the actual act of joining the secular world. Because of the way that the story is told, and the stories of the research "subjects", we are often told the same stories over and over. Not only are so many of the experiences shared by different participants, but the author gives us a recap anytime she references someone we're "met" before.

 

I can honestly say that this book could have been half the length and still provided the same amount of information. Instead of breaking the stories into sections and having to retell (or recap) each story in every section, I think the book would have had more of an impact if the author has told us the stories of each person in whole, giving us the complete stories of 4-5 people who had somewhat different experiences. Though I did learn a lot about Haredi (and Hasidic, in particular) Jews and the gender and learning constraints that they had, breaking up the book into sections caused the stories to be disjointed and lost the impact they could have had.


Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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If you enjoyed my review, please help me share it by marking it as being helpful on Amazon. I have included the link to the Amazon review in the Source section at the bottom of this review.

Source: www.amazon.com/review/R15AGEEXA769P6
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