I’m the kind of person who likes to do a little research, especially when reviewing books. Not for me the put-down (X fails to consider the reverse-Reimann manoeuvre and yet expects us to take his analysis of post-causal hermeneutics seriously) that is so easily countered (Y obviously didn’t get as far as page 3, where I explicitly observed that causality in and of itself is meaningless without reversing the manoeuvre often erroneously credited to Reimann). So after guffawing my way annoyingly through Dennis Danziger’s A short history of a tall Jew, I headed on over to everybody’s favourite search engine. The publisher, Deal Street Press, is invisible, even when I added the city of Los Angeles. Danziger’s website has been dead since the day it opened with a self-deprecating Hello World, which, like so many untended derelict alleys is now home only to drug pushers.1 The man himself is a reasonably frequent contributor to The Huffington Post, where he explained that the book had been self-published, as part of making a claim to being “the world’s worst Jewish businessman”. I looked at a couple of his other pieces; they’re good. He’s good. I admire what he has to say about teaching and teachers.
So I’ve just read two successive self-published books! This is definitely a trend. I was going to kvetch about the lack of good copy editors these days -- Tetrus indeed -- but I guess maybe there wasn’t one at all. The thing about being self-published, of course, is that you have to be self-everything else as well, although I’m happy to be an outsourced marketing department, especially for products I enjoy myself.
Didn’t I say this was going to be a short review?
A short history of a tall Jew really is funny, and has some seriously tea-up-the-nose spluttering set pieces, but probably only if you have at least a smidgin of sensitivity to the cosmic joke that is Jewishness. I’m not going to summarise the plot or anything like that. It’s about a guy who teaches English in the Los Angeles public school system. Dennis Danziger teaches English in the Los Angeles public school system. And he is Jewish. He’s probably tall too. At least, he enjoys basketball. Try it, what harm can it do?
My rating: 4 out of 5