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Omaha Blues : A Memory Loop - Joseph Lelyveld

Omaha Blues

A Memory Loop

Paperback Published: 21st March 2006
ISBN: 9780312425104
Number Of Pages: 230

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In the basement of the Cleveland synagogue where his father, Arthur, was a celebrated rabbi, Joseph Lelyveld finds a musty trunk of souvenirs. Applying his award-winning investigative skills, as both a newspaperman and author, Lelyveld uses his father's letters and mementos to rediscover his shakily remembered childhood, and his parent's unhappy marriage. Lelyveld's journey through personal history unexpectedly touches landmarks of the past century--the Scottsboro trials, the Zionist movement, the Hollywood blacklist, and Mississippi's "freedom summer" of 1964--and, in the words of Joan Didion, "this astonishing journal of personal discovery" combines "both a powerfully affecting family history and a political history of the most complex kind." Joseph Lelyveld's career at "The New York Times" spanned nearly four decades and included stints as a correspondent in London, New Delhi, Hong Kong, and Johannesburg. He also served as the paper's foreign editor, managing editor, and, from 1994 to 2001, executive editor. He is the author of "Move Your Shadow": "South Africa, Black and White," which won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1986. He lives in New York. A "New York Times "Notable Book
A "Chicago Tribune "Best Book of the Year
In the basement of the Cleveland synagogue where his father, Arthur, was a celebrated rabbi, Joseph Lelyveld finds a musty trunk of souvenirs. Applying his award-winning investigative skills as both a newspaper-man and author, Lelyveld uses his father's letters and mementos to rediscover his shakily remembered childhood and his parents' unhappy marriage. Lelyveld's journey through personal history unexpectedly touches landmarks of the past century--the Scottsboro trials, the Zionist movement, the Hollywood blacklist, and Mississippi's Freedom Summer of 1964--and, in the words of Joan Didion, "this astonishing journal of personal discovery" combines "both a powerfully affecting family history and a political history of the most complex kind." "Captivating and affecting . . . His account is clear-eyed, curious, scrupulous."--Andre Aciman, "The New York Times"
"It is not the habit of newspapermen, even those as accomplished as Lelyveld, a former executive editor of the "Times," to write memoirs of the heart. The usual mode is wry, crackling nostalgia (Mencken and Dreiser) or institutional accounting (Arthur Gelb, Max Frankel). At the "Times," Lelyveld was known as a brilliant yet shy master of the newsroom, but here he is after something nakedly personal--the secrets of his warring and troubled parents and his own injured youth. At the heart of the story is a misaligned Midwestern marriage--a literary mother and a political father, who was one of the most prominent Reform rabbis in the country. Lelyveld goes about his project of retrieval bravely, with the industry, the scrupulousness, and the ruthlessness of a lifetime's reportorial discipline. The result is a book that does not care to charm, and does not; rather, it arrives at redemption and forgiveness through the meticulous act of finding out, and recording, the truth."--"The New Yorker""" "Reminiscent of Proust's account of his forgotten childhood world suddenly reappearing . . . his book is more like life than memoir . . . Remarkable."--Russell Baker, "The New York Review of Books""" "Lelyveld has blessed us with a careful, sensitive, and moving book . . . A triumph of storytelling."--Philip Connors, "Newsday" "Omaha Blues is an intensely personal book. What saves it from navel-gazing is Lelyveld's painfully beautiful writing and his distanced, almost analytical, portrayal of his parents' flaws and his own unhappiness. His father, while loving, was mostly absent from Joseph's life, jaunting around the country for his causes. His mother, plagued by mental illness and suicide attempts, was clearly disenchanted with motherhood. During the summer of his sixth year, Joseph was left with a family of strangers in rural Nebraska, where he contemplated his abandonment. Critics called the book moving and unforgettable for its personal elements and cited its glimpses into the civil rights and Zionist movements, in which the elder Lelyveld was deeply involved."--Donna Marchetti, "The Plain Dealer" "Although his parents nicknamed him "the memory boy," former "New York Times" executive editor Lelyveld can't remember how he earned such a moniker. In this memoir, the author reflects on this detail as well as other familial eccentricities as he sorts through his dying father's belongings. He recalls not just his own past, but that of his rabbi father and Shakespearean scholar mother, as well as political events of their time, like the Scottsboro trials and the Zionist movement . . . Readers will appreciate and connect with the way he tries to unravel his past and examine its details almost as they present themselves--as one would for the paper of record."--"Publishers Weekly" "Generous, evenhanded . . . Eccentric . . . Told] in mellifluous prose."--"Kirkus Reviews"

Industry Reviews

"[Omaha Blues] arrives at redemption and forgiveness through the meticulous act of finding out, and recording, the truth." --The New Yorker

"Reminiscent of Proust's account of his forgotten childhood world suddenly reappearing. . . . His book is more like life than memoir. . . . Remarkable." --Russell Baker, The New York Review of Books

"Lelyveld has blessed us with a careful, sensitive and moving book . . . a triumph of storytelling." --Philip Connors, Newsday ["Omaha Blues"] arrives at redemption and forgiveness through the meticulous act of finding out, and recording, the truth. "The New Yorker"

Reminiscent of Proust's account of his forgotten childhood world suddenly reappearing. . . . His book is more like life than memoir. . . . Remarkable. "Russell Baker, The New York Review of Books"

Lelyveld has blessed us with a careful, sensitive and moving book . . . a triumph of storytelling. "Philip Connors, Newsday"" "["Omaha Blues"] arrives at redemption and forgiveness through the meticulous act of finding out, and recording, the truth."--"The New Yorker"

"Reminiscent of Proust's account of his forgotten childhood world suddenly reappearing. . . . His book is more like life than memoir. . . . Remarkable."--Russell Baker, "The New York Review of Books" "" "Lelyveld has blessed us with a careful, sensitive and moving book . . . a triumph of storytelling."--Philip Connors, "Newsday" "["Omaha Blues] arrives at redemption and forgiveness through the meticulous act of finding out, and recording, the truth."--"The New Yorker "Reminiscent of Proust's account of his forgotten childhood world suddenly reappearing. . . . His book is more like life than memoir. . . . Remarkable."--Russell Baker, "The New York Review of Books" "Lelyveld has blessed us with a careful, sensitive and moving book . . . a triumph of storytelling."--Philip Connors, "Newsday

ISBN: 9780312425104
ISBN-10: 0312425104
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 230
Published: 21st March 2006
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 20.57 x 16.56  x 1.63
Weight (kg): 0.27
Edition Type: Annotated

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