Sunday, June 29, 2008

Russell Smith's Julia Sternberg; Alfred E. Neuman The Jew

It's my opinion that Russell Smith's Muriella Pent is the best Canadian novel of the past decade. It's stiff and cloying in many places, but apparently the publishers insisted on Canadian content.

My only complaint's with Smith's Julia Sternberg. She's the naive Jewess who lives in a factory loft on Queen Street, raises stay cats, cooks Thai noodles and mews at the sunrise.

I've actually slept with a girl like Julia Sternberg. She invited me up after our first date. It was our first time being intimate (with all the windows open and the front door unlocked). We were in her apartment, rolling around on the floor, and suddenly she started whimpering. "Is something wrong?" I asked. "Am I hurting you?"

"No," she said. "Deja vu."

"But do you want me to stop?"

"No. No."

"Well, what do you want me to do?"

"Just do what you did last time."

One day we were walking past a newsstand on Front Street near the St. Lawrence Market and she saw a man reading a Mad Magazine.

"Excuse me," she said. "What are you reading?"

"What?" The guy was in his thirties. He was just an average guy.

"How can you read that anti-Semitic trash?"


"Do you know that Alfred E. Neuman is a caricature of Jewish villainy crafted from the racist lyrics of Ezra Pound?"

"...Pound wasn't a lyric poet..."

"...And that Neuman eats whitefish salad and red onions and his favourite dessert is herring?"

I stepped in. "Karen, please. Let's go."

"But this man is an anti-Semite."

"No, no, he's not. Look, he's got The Beaver under his arm. He's a history buff. Just leave him alone."

"David," she said, planting her kitten heel. "You never stand behind me."

"That's because you don't like me opening doors for you."

By this time the man with the Mad had escaped.

"What do you want from me, David?" she asked. "I'm just trying to stand up for us. Which, by the way, you never do. I can't believe you. You just let these racist morons conduct their anschluss. And you do nothing!"

A few days later we broke up. While taking the Yonge-University subway up to St. Clair East, she accused a conductor of forcing her to the back of the car. We'd just gotten on at Union Station.

"Karen," I started, "there's no back of the subway. It turns around. Please, let's just sit down."

"If it were up to you, we'd probably just ride a pushcart through the city."

"It's the TTC goddamnit! You think they're anti-Semitic? With a nice Jewish boy like Adam Giambrone?"

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