Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Gift Books

I will be attending my first bar mitzvah this weekend. My nephew David is becoming a man in the Jewish tradition.
I'm looking forward to it. I've never seen any Jewish service at all, so it will be a completely new experience for me.

When I asked my sister-in-law what kind of gift is appropriate for the occasion, she suggested I get him a book that is special to me. My mind immediately thought of the only book that had a profound effect on me when I was a teenager: Portnoy's Complaint.

Hey, it's about a Jewish boy becoming a man, right? Well, kind of. For the uninitiated, Portnoy's Complaint is a detailed account of a neurotic Jewish boy/man's sexual (mis)adventures, starting with him, uh, "violating" a piece of liver that would become his family's dinner. (It was begging for it.)

I read it when I was in 8th or 9th grade, and probably again in the 9th or 10th grade, and again in 11th or 12th grade, and then probably again in college. I read that book so often it could have turned me blind.

So when I joked to my sister-in-law that I could get David Portnoy's Complaint as a bar mitzvah gift, she was not amused. But she took it well and said, "Maybe not for another few years." He is, after all, only 13. Also, receiving such a gift from your uncle, at any age, would be very creepy.

Still, the thought amused me.


Frankly, I can't think of any other books that have special significance to me that also would be appropriate for a 13-year-old boy. My favorite book, Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris, wouldn't be creepy, just kind of boring for someone of that age, I think.

Shel Silverstein's The Missing Piece is another favorite, but again, I don't know if it's age/gender appropriate. Same with Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions.

As I was pondering this, I came across this video on Facebook:

It's going viral in a hurry. Two of my friends, from different parts of the country, posted it within hours of each other. Each of them had re-posted it from friends of theirs.

It's a reading of the book is Go the Fuck to Sleep, read by Samuel L. Jackson. For any parent or caregiver who's ever dealt with a child who keeps stalling to go to bed, it's brilliant.

Again, not appropriate for my nephew's bar mitzvah, but it may be my new favorite children's book of all time.

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