I wanted the book to be many things. I wanted to write a book that was big, direct, meandering, and mindful, and I did and it turned out just like that. I wanted to write a book that included all the parts of the dramatic essence of my American experiences associated with my wife’s family in Israel, that obsessed and shaped me; which must also be the bits to show up in the anticipated film and/or possible television version.
I finished it, eventually, after more than a generous number of drafts and I got feedback; considering, a certain amount of comfort in the age-old adage that a novel can best be defined as a long piece of prose with something wrong with it; and I was fairly sure that I’d written one of those.
Readers who critiqued the finished project were concerned that the book I had given to them was slightly too big and too meandering (they didn’t mind it being too odd and offensive), and wanted me to trim it, and I did. I suspected their instincts might have been right, for the book is poised to garner tens of thousands in copies it sells—if not millions of copies; all things content related controversial, unfortunately, may not receive any awards, especially any praises from the Black and Palestinian communities, nor favorable commentary from the writing community, political bodies, and the international community at-large, demonstrating that I accomplished what I sat out to do, to piss everybody off, even if it is unpopular nobody would be quite certain what to do about it.
But that’s something yet to be seen in the future, at last. First, the book needs to be published for placement on the market. The various publishing options do not fascinate me at all, even though I chronicled them on the world=wide-web, and on blogs without much optimism, I remain optimistic, I started with that state of mind (and continue to this day). When the book is published I will not be going on any book-signing tours, not in the U.S., not in the U.K., not in Canada, and not even here in Israel. The only book signing I might do won’t happen until after the second installment is published, entitled “French Kissed,” nor will I be scheduling any lectures or speaking tours so as to keep my expectations from getting too far out of sync with my perceptive.
Now that the person most responsible for the completion of the project is no longer with us, little seems to matter except getting this book out into the world. It’s all she ever wanted.
The form of reception from the beta readers to whom the book was given surprised me too.
I now endeavor to tell stories that people hate but see themselves in, and stories that make people rightly afraid of everything, as they should be anyway. I’d never written anything so divisive before. But with this book, beta readers either hated it, or they really hated it. The ones who really hated it, even they couldn’t resist reading the book a second time. They complained that the book was insensitive to certain groups, or the book was antisemitic, or not American enough; others complained that it was so American it made them uncomfortable; that Calvin and Christine lacked passion and were unsympathetic; that I had failed to understand that the true purpose of the American dream was hope; and so on, etc. All, undoubtedly, valid criticisms. But in the end, mostly, people who found the book realized it was the book that found them. I think it’s fair to say that more people hated the book with a bitter-sweet love, and continue to despise me for writing it.
Within the next several months, I hope, I will continue, and go back to the story in “French Kissed.” Calvin and Christine are standing on their last leg of hope, after all. So is America. And the band plays on—as if anybody has time to listen.