Lipshitz Six, or Two Angry Blondes by T Cooper
Reviewed by Debutante Kristy
Disclaimer: Happily, I don’t have one. I don’t know T Cooper, have never met her, haven’t asked for a blurb from her, don’t know anyone who knows her. We don’t share an agent, an editor, or a gynecologist. As far as I know we are not related, nor does it appear that we might be in the future.
I go through phases in book buying. I used to buy whatever I wanted, but over the past several years I’ve had to get creative and selective when buying books (as opposed to getting them from the library, when I just go plum crazy and grab everything in a lustful frenzy). I have one period a year in which I feel free to spend money on books, and that is just before vacation, when I take a small amount of cash and enter the bookstore, flush and reverent, and choose fresh, never before paged through, never eaten over, never been in a stranger’s bathroom, never had its innermost pages breathed upon, books. I OWN these books. They will never leave my possession, and I cherish them. I choose these books during these times by rather erratic criteria. One year I chose only debut authors. And this was when I first came across T Cooper. I bought Some of the Parts, her debut novel, and I fell in love. You readers will recognize this. The sigh when the book comes to a close, the cementing in the mind of the author’s name, the urge to wait a proper amount of time before opening a new book to allow your heart and intellect to grieve the passing of this one.
Finally, I saw T Cooper again. And it was right before vacation. Oh, heaven. I didn’t even look to see what it was about, I just scooped that thick book, with the intriguing cover and the odd, possibly-looked-over-by-many title up and tucked it into the vacation pile in the crook of my arm, where it weighed me down with sweet expectation.
Well worth the wait–and the weight.
Lipshitz is the name of a Jewish family fleeing persecution in Russia in 1907, and it follows the family through their arrival at Ellis Island, the loss of their youngest son, their assimilation into American culture, their move to Texas, and most poignantly, the gradual disintegration of Esther Lipshitz, who becomes convinced that Charles Lindbergh is her missing son, Reuven.
Lipshitz Six, or Two Angry Blondes is 430 pages long. And 316 pages of that are a beautifully written, character-driven, historical novel. I would have been satisfied with it. I would have sighed that happy sigh and grieved the end of the book. But then T Cooper goes a little wiggy on us. She turns the last 114 pages over to a profane, bat mitzvah performing Eminem impersonator, the modern-day descendent of Esther. And the impersonator’s name is…T Cooper. Now, regular readers have seen this before, and we’ve even perhaps called it a device (ala Brett Easton Ellis’s Lunar Park, which I read and enjoyed [except for that whole thing with the dog’s butt at the end *shudder*] last year). And I’d even be tempted to call T Cooper (the author, not the Eminem impersonator) a show-off for this.
Except that it works so, so very beautifully. It is a shocking transition. And it made me laugh–as in, HA!–out loud when I turned that last page of the historical. It works because T Cooper is the real thing. She is no show-off, she is simply very, very talented. I’m ready for her next book. And I might not even wait for that vacation stipend.
Writer’s Aside: Being a writer, knowing other writers, can be hard as a reader. I think all of my friends should be bestsellers. They are a vastly talented group, and I’ve no doubt that they will all likely be bestsellers in the future. But I can’t say that (publicly, anyway). Because other people would think I was just saying that because those people are my friends. Which is why I always give my little disclaimer at the beginning of a review. So a review like this is fun because I can say, without any concern about “playing favorites” accusations being flung about willy-nilly, that T Cooper should be a bestseller. Are there writers out there that you wonder why they’re not feted by the “big” lists yet? Who are they? What makes them a Should Be A Bestseller?
Aside Aside: I’ve recently found out that T Cooper made the LA Times Bestseller list twice earlier this year, but I want her on ALL the lists, the way I wanted Lionel Shriver on ALL the lists for We Need To Talk About Kevin.