Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Save Me, Julie Kogon is Here!

Welcome to Ruff Talk!

My first novel, Save Me, Julie Kogon, was just released this Spring!

So far, all those who have read it and offered reviews and feedback have had nothing but wonderful compliments and high praise. I'm encouraging everyone to check it out and to help spread the word about it.

While I’ve lived here in Madison, WI for almost thirty-five years, the book is set in my hometown of New Haven, Connecticut. It takes place in two days’ “real time” in 1989, but spans four generations through flashbacks, dreams and hallucinations. It paints a portrait of a contemporary Jewish-American family rarely, if ever, seen.

What's it about?

When Harry Rabin collapses in the yard of his fly-by-night used car lot and dies a short time later, his three sons come together to bury “the ol’ man”. Flying home with his Midwestern wife to a New Haven scene from which he thought he had escaped, Davey Rabin steps headlong into that world that his oldest brother, the perpetually struggling street guy Mickey, and Howard, the closeted all-business middle one, never left. Confronted by Harry’s sudden exit, the three look to figure out their father’s dying words and other long buried secrets as the funeral approaches.

Harry, you see, was “old school.” The son of impoverished immigrants, he came off of Legion Avenue, that hard-pressed “old neighborhood” where survival was the game and everything was a gamble. His story is told through vivid, sometimes startling dream sequences and flashbacks - those of his sons, his hard-drinking life-long friend and undertaker, his Black girlfriend of over twenty years, and a daughter unknown to the sons, among others. You’ll meet late ‘40s Irgun gun smugglers, Italian and Jewish hoodlums, corrupt cops, beleaguered wives and lovers lost, and generations of abandoned kids left to navigate an uncertain world on their own.

Save Me, Julie Kogon is a story of love and reverberating neglect told with compassion and sadness as well as irony, subtle ambiguity, and touches of savvy dark humor. It’s a book filled with memories lost and recovered from a receding time and all but forgotten place, an American tale of hard choices and missed opportunity, twisted fate and a certain legacy of craziness handed down across decades as the sole father-to-son inheritance.

I hold a Ph.D. in US history from the University of Wisconsin and have published non-fiction. This is my first foray into fiction. What makes this tale work are the story teller’s skills inherited from my father, Harry Rabin’s “model”. I know his world, now vanished, and fluently speak its language.

For some initial press, see the Madison Isthmus.

What They're Saying About Save Me, Julie Kogon:

*We Come To Bury Harry, And To Praise Him*, June 8, 2007 By T. Grinde (From Amazon)

Mr. Ruff has written a deeply engrossing, hard-to-put-down tale involving four generations of the Rabin family. Harry Rabin has died. As his family gathers for the final rites, questions begin to arise. This book uses major doses of history, psychology, and sociology (and certainly humor!), all in aid of solutions to various mysteries: What was Harry Rabin really like, and why was he like that? What can the tantalizing book title possibly mean?

The author examines the connections between memory and time and the varying perceptions of both. He makes effective use of flashbacks, dreams and even hallucinations to easily move the reader back and forth from the early 1920s to 1989 and points between.

The characters inhabiting Save Me, Julie Kogon are large. You may not love them all, but it's most unlikely that you will be indifferent to any of them. Mr. Ruff has a great ear for dialogue, which is clearly presented and a delight to follow. This novel would make a great movie, and readers may enjoy the prospective casting of various scenes. Pay careful attention to the embalming episode!

Save Me, Julie Kogon is a tightly woven narrative which will both instruct and amuse. Read this book; you'll find yourself wishing for more when you're finished.

-T. Grinde

Do check it out. I promise you will not be disappointed!

You can get a signed copy, shipped directly from Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative here in Madison. Or you can order either through the publisher, Trafford. (Just type in my name in their "Quick Search"). The book is also available on Amazon

Other books by me:
We Called Each Other Comrade - Charles H. Kerr & Company, Radical Publishers(Univ. of Illinois press, 1997)
Forward! A History of Dane County: The Capital County (Madison, WI: 2001)


For something else that I've written recently, in a different vein, see my widely circulated "Do Zionists Run America?" a review of James Petras' ill-conceived conspiracist tract ,The Power of Israel in the United States.

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