Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Jerome Charyn - Jerzy - Review & Giveaway

About the Book

Jerzy Kosinski was a great enigma of post-World War II literature. When he exploded onto the American literary scene in 1965 with his best-selling novel The Painted Bird, he was revered as a Holocaust survivor and refugee from the world hidden behind the Soviet Iron Curtain. He won major literary awards, befriended actor Peter Sellers (who appeared in the screen adaptation of his novel Being There), and was a guest on talk shows and at the Oscars. But soon the facade began to crack, and behind the public persona emerged a ruthless social climber, sexual libertine, and pathological liar who may have plagiarized his greatest works.

Jerome Charyn lends his unmistakable style to this most American story of personal disintegration, told through the voices of multiple narrators—a homicidal actor, a dominatrix, and Joseph Stalin’s daughter—who each provide insights into the shifting facets of Kosinski’s personality. The story unfolds like a Russian nesting doll, eventually revealing the lost child beneath layers of trauma, while touching on the nature of authenticity, the atrocities of WWII, the allure of sadomasochism, and the fickleness of celebrity.

My Review

Jerzy Kosinski, the title character of this book, was quite simply a con artist. He could spin fabulous tales to amuse high profile people at parties and social gatherings, but when it came to writing it all down, he used the hidden talent of a troubled young girl, claiming it as his own.

But like all those who try to pull off wearing different masks throughout life, Kosinski's eventually had to come off. When he's exposed as a fraud by The Village Voice, a quote from his childhood hits the nail squarely on the head, "I'm tired of chess. [My] whole existence has been a chess game."

Let's face it, his formative years growing up in German - then Russian - occupied Poland couldn't have been easy. He learned from a young age that to stay alive, "the best lies keep as close as possible to the truth." Humorously enough, he became "the village's Jewish altar boy." Yet it makes one understand his need for subterfuge.

However, the esteemed literary circles of Manhattan show him no mercy. He falls from the heights of grace becoming a social pariah among the elite and the powerful. No more talk show appearances. No more best sellers. In fact, it could be said that suicide was built into the very fabric of his work since he survived the war on his fierce will alone. One could conclude that his tragic demise was inevitable.

Is despondency Poland's national disease? Possibly. If as a child, Kosinski says, "I feel like I'm a hundred - when will I have time to be a boy?" And his parent replies, "When all our enemies are in the grave." It has to damage a person's psyche, and when it comes to Kosinski, the damage is beyond repair.

Ultimately, he turned into a creepy voyeur rather than a fully actualized person. He even admits it in the novel, when he says to someone, "I meant to say hello. But I was enjoying my little game too much - the pleasure of watching you."

On the whole, I found Jerzy the novel to be a sad tale of a man who was willing to do anything to live, yet didn't know how.


Jerzy can be purchased at:
Barnes and Noble
Bellevue Literary Press

Prices/Formats: $16.99 ebook, $16.99 paperback
Genre: Historical, Jewish
Pages: 240
Release: March 14, 2017
Publisher: Bellevue Literary Press
ISBN: 9781942658146
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CLICK HERE to read an excerpt from Jerzy.

About the Author

Jerome Charyn is the author of more than fifty works of fiction and nonfiction, including A Loaded Gun: Emily Dickinson for the 21st Century, Bitter Bronx: Thirteen Stories, I Am Abraham: A Novel of Lincoln and the Civil War, and The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson: A Novel. Among other honors, he has been longlisted for the PEN Award for Biography, honored as a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, named a Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture, and is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in New York.

Links to connect with Jerome:
Web Site


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