Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Games Jerzy Played

You know how many books have written a disclaimer, in small print, somewhere near the front of their novels, “The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any apparent similarity to real persons is not intended by the author."  Well, Jerome Charyn, the author of Jerzy A Novel, writes the disclaimer more creatively, “This is a work of fiction.  Characters, organizations, events, and places (even those that are actual) are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.”

I consciously had to keep that in mind because Charyn’s Jerzy is real.  Jerzy was a real person.  His name was Jerzy Kosinski and he was a prominent writer from the 1960’s to the 1990’s.  He was popular and sold many books. Jerome Charyn uses Jerzy as a diving board to cannon ball into his imagination.  And what a ride it is.  Jerzy is BFF with Peter Sellers, Princess Margaret and Stalin’s daughter, Svetlanda. All the people he meets, befriends, loves, and marries, add color to Jerzy’s life and Charyn’s story. But eventually, Jerzy’s fame and fortune disintegrate when jealous people make accusations of plagiarism and opportunism.  The wolves surround Jerzy and he eventually gives up the fight.  He commits suicide.

Jerzy in real life, I gather, was an enigma.  His childhood in WWII was crazy.  He and his family had to live a double life.  And Jerome Charyn’s Jerzy depicts  Jerzy as continuing to live a crazy frenetic life.  Jerzy uses people and depletes them.  He has ghost writers—or does he?  Muses or just secretaries?  Genius or luck?  Saint or sinner?

The answer is “yes.”  Jerzy Kosinski is all these things and more.  Charyn’s novel, at the very least, will have you reading Jerzy Kosinski’s Painted Bird.  Charyn whets your appetite to learn more about Jerzy.  May I suggest, that you read Jerome Charyn, instead.  This author has written about other people: The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson, I am Abraham, etc.  Compare Jerzy to these other novels.  You will learn to appreciate the detail, imagination and writing of Jerome Charyn.  I admit I do.

I was given this novel to review but there were no strings attached.  It was up to me to give a positive or negative review.

Jerome Charyn's Bio:

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.
Jerzy Book Summary:
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.
Prices/Formats: $16.99 ebook, $16.99 paperback
Historical, Jewish
Jerome Charyn

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1 comment:

Tribute Books said...

Faith, I think this is my all-time, favorite review of yours. Thank you!

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