I’m going back to Hotel California. That’s right. What am I, a sucker? Why should I send my kids to the Israeli army when they can become tennis pros in Beverly Hills? You think I’m kidding? An old friend from LA got me a job writing for a new sit-com, “Gay in the White House” about America’s first gay President and First Gay Lady. The show has a lot of potential, and I haven’t forgotten how to write trash humor, so why not use my talents to make a few bucks ($600,000 a year) instead of giving my stuff away free here at The Jewish Press?
Now that I think about it, I made a big mistake. Instead of bringing Tevye to the Promised Land, I should have brought him to Las Vegas to meet up with Meir Lansky and Bugsy Siegel in building the town’s first casino. First he throws off his embarrassing tzitzis, then his milkman’s cap, then he shaves off his beard and finds himself a shicksa. Now that would have been a bestseller! Everyone loves to read novels about Jews who assimilate. Look at Norman Mailer. He had 8 shicksa wives. Philip Roth also forgot to marry a Jew. Plus he writes about hating his mother and makes fun of being Jewish, so of course the world loves him! Joseph Heller wrote a ribald satire about King David. And the great Jewish playwright, Arthur Miller, married Marilyn Monroe. You can’t top that for success! What a jerk I was to bring Tevye to the Holy Land to become a pioneer settler! It’s the exact opposite of what the world wants to read about! My old literary agent in NY loved the book, but said it was “too Jewish.” Meaning it was too pro Israel, pro Torah, pro settlements, and too anti-assimilation. Imagine a publisher saying Tolstoy was “too Russian.” Or that James Clavell’s books were “too Japanese.”
Well, I’ve learned my lesson. By the time you read this blog, I’ll probably be on the plane to LA. My wife refuses to come with me, so who knows what could be? Maybe I’ll become Madonna’s new rabbi and follow her around on tour. Talk about publicity! I’d be famous overnight and Amazon Books wouldn’t be able to keep up with the demand for my books! California dreaming on such a summer’s day. If I forget thee, O Hollywood! In the meantime, here’s a short story from my collection of short stories, “Day of Mashiach”.
The book has just been published in France. The French appreciate good literature for literature’s sake. They compare me there to Kafka, Voltaire, and the master of fables, Jean de La Fontaine. Just like they say, no man’s a prophet in his own land. Anyway, enjoy the story. It’s a fable about the Jewish People. If you don’t have time to read it now, print it out and save it for later. And don’t forget to follow the serialization of Tevye in the Promised Land starting today in The Jewish Press. I’m sure you’ll like it! L’hitraot and see you in LA!
THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVELIST
Ephraim Lane was born with the name Ephraim Lansky. In his youth, he was a voracious reader. By the time he was six, he could quote long passages from Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and Wolfe. When he was thirteen, he shocked his parents by refusing to have a bar-mitzvah. Judaism, he claimed, was lousy fiction. All human beings were chosen, he said. In the spirit of rebellion which was to characterize his future, he vowed to use his talents to erase all differences between gentiles and Jews.
Ephraim attended an elite boarding school in New England. He partied through four years at Harvard, and fought valiantly in the Marines. His first novel about the Second World War, written in his young twenties, and published under the more American-sounding E. Lane, was an explosive bestseller. The passionate account of manhood trial and fear was not just another copy of Hemingway, like so many books of the time, but the dawning of a brilliant new light.
His next piece of fiction was shorter and far more complex. The allegory about a society gone corrupt received good reviews but failed to attract an audience. Like the strong-hearted boxer that he fancied himself, he pulled himself up from the canvas and published his third work, a literary satire of Jewish life in New York which put his impish grin on magazine covers all over the country. A try at a Hollywood screenplay, a loud bout of drinking, a publicized marriage with a sexy actress, followed by a speedy divorce, sent the young author back down to the mat.