‘Fun and Games’: Identity crises abound

Fun & Games by David Michael Slater; Zharmae Publishing, La Mesa, California © 2016; ISBN 978-1-943549-58-0; 246 pages.

By Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison

fun & gamesSAN DIEGO –Jonathan Schwartz has a common Jewish name and, one might think, a not uncommon adolescence as he and his friends binge drink and talk about hoped-for sexual encounters with hot girls.

But all is not what it seems in this novel exploring how people of all ages grapple with their identities.

For example, Jonathan’s father, a well-known author, rejects religion in favor of rationalism.  But his doubts take him to study with an Orthodox group in Israel.

Two of Jonathan’s friends wonder about their sexuality, while one of his sisters tries to become a virgin porn star.  An older sister feigns disdain for her family, but separation from them is the last thing she wants.

A grandmother, who survived the Holocaust, makes obscene “jokes” about the fate of the Jews under Hitler.

Through it all, Jonathan seems to be the only one without any internal conflicts. As the world goes crazy around him, he is a rock of stability.  Girls find his lack of inner turmoil attractive, and just by being his uncomplicated self, he gains a popularity he never seeks.

Humor glues this tale together. It begins with an uproarious scene when the gentle Rabbi Glickman comes to visit the Schwartz household amid the tumult of his sisters’ growing awareness of their sexuality, along with the appearance on the sidewalk outside the Schwartz home of a star-struck fan who believes Jonathan’s  author father is the messiah.

Sexual and alcoholic escapades of teenagers, we are led to believe, are diversions—acts of procrastination, if you will—enabling them to put off, at least temporarily, the painful process of finding out who they really are.

Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World.  He may be contacted via [email protected] .  Comments intended for publication in the space below MUST be signed with the letter writer’s first and last name and with his/ her city and state of residence (city and country if outside the United States.)

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