My One and Only Love — Book Review
Of Showbiz Kings and Kosher Pigs with Wings
My One and Only Love is a wild romp through the vast expanse of Gilad Atzmon’s imagination that leaves you breathless with laughter.
If you read Atzmon’s Guide to the Perplexed you are familiar with his satire power, if you read The Wandering Who? you know his philosophy, humanism and unflinching quest for truth and beauty, wherever it leads.
This book reveals other facets of Atzmon’s talent. One is his humor, of Rabelaisian robustness, life-afirming even in sarcastic wit, often reminiscent of Bukowsky. Nothing human is alien to him nor taboo and barred from examination: beauty, ugliness, sexuality, greed, pretense, opportunism, nationalistic cant, hypocrisy and, of course, as expected from the pioneer of the Jewish identity syndrome studies, Jewish supremacism.
Another is his memorable delineation of characters, not two-dimensional cardboard effigies but live incarnations of Israeli typology, each with his or her individual voice and diction.
There is Avrum, the showbiz entrepreneur, resourceful “fixer” always looking for a “combina” to make some “lokshen,” while patriotically helping “Long Arm,” the feared Israeli intelligence service, to abduct a Nazi war criminal from South America by hiding him in a “Gulliver violin case.”
There is Sabrina Hopshteter, Holocaust survivor and retired Long Arm agent, sharing her memories of working as a “honeypot” to track Nazis in Germany and protect them in essence from the likes of zealots like Vizikrechzintal, who did not understand that bringing all Nazis to justice would dilute the impact of the Holocaust.
In the shadows is Codcod, the versatile head of Long Arm, financing a record company “specializing in sad repertoires that “make the Germans cry like crazy and feel like shit about themselves,” banking on their guilt, and also getting the Weizmann Institute to create a circumcised pig with cloven feet and wearing a skullcap to enable the production of kosher schweinhurst, because “there is nothing that the Jewish brain is incapable of sorting out” if needed.
There is the memorable, Danny Zilber, the naïve and shy trumpetist who has perfected one note he is able to hit at a frequency that throws his female audience into ecstatic erotic delirium. He is puzzled by their frenzy but not interested in any of them for he pines away for his one an only love, the elusive Elza, none other than Sabrina.
Finally there is Bird Stringshtien the PhD history student specializing in … autobiographical research, who brings all the stories together through his research and interviews, and whose own life story is a farçical Fielding spoof–the kibbutz foundling. It would spoil the reader’s pleasure to reveal it as it would to tell the ultimate fate of all characters.
The world would be a much better place if more people were capable of introspection and sober self-appraisal, but it would be a dour place if they were not also capable of laughing at themselves. Atzmon teaches us how to do both.