In order to research an obscure (but true) massacre which is part of my novel
Toads’ Museum of Freaks and Wonders
, I travelled to that part of Italy where massively heavy marble trucks roll down single lane mountain roads that look more like landslides. It’s a beautiful region. Next time, however, I want a donkey. And a parachute:
In part one, she rents a small Fiat that comes ready equipped with an overflowing ashtray, a GPS unit (more on this later) and a pair of sandy bikini bottoms on the passenger seat. “Mine!” giggles the booking agent, snatching them off the seat and wiggling her butt in a way that contrives to be both sexy and slimming.
In part two, the author attempts to drive the Fiat up rock face that has been described erroneously as the road to her accommodations in a gorgeous but fairly inaccessible medieval village. She has read the directions which state that even thought the road looks impossible, if you keep your foot on the accelerator, you will eventually get there or die in the attempt. Halfway up, the engine burns out and the Fiat begins to gracefully roll backwards towards the non-existent safety rail. It’s beginning to look more like the die in the attempt version.
In part three, the Fiat’s GPS unit tells her (once the engine has been replaced or whatever it is that is done with burned-out engines) to drive through a concrete mixer. And through a terracotta studio. And up an insanely steep mountain and into some farmer’s chicken hutch. All in the vain hunt for a bottle of Coke. Because, you know, Coke is life, and I’m needing some at this point. Life, that is.
In part four, the GPS unit is dubbed the Navigation Bitch, because of the way she shrieks “No! No! No! You utter moron! You’ve gone way too far! What are you, some kind of idiot Australian for attempting to drive on Italian roads or what???”
In part five, the author attempts, yet again, to drive up the road to her accommodations. She notes, appreciatively, how someone has thoughtfully bent out the ten inch guard rail in the place where the road isn’t actually as wide as her car, so that there will be someplace for the tires to go when she turns the corner at that stone house that has already gouged the side of the rental car (before she figured out that the road isn’t as wide as the car). She reminds herself not to look down on the guard rail side, because she’s afraid of heights, and she reminds herself to keep her foot on the accelerator, because the hill is very steep, but not give it too much gas, because if she presses too hard, the engine will burn out and she and the Fiat will, in fact, roll backwards and fall gracefully down that steep chasm that she isn’t looking at right now.
On Monday, Goldie Goldbloom wrote about why she’s totally going to be excommunicated (hint: She’s a Chasidic Jew who just wrote a novel about gay sex in the Australian Outback, circa World War II). She is the author of Toads’ Museum of Freaks and Wonders. She will be blogging all week for the Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning.
Oh, I do so love a pie-eyed, dyed-in-the-wool loony! There’s something that gives me a savage kick in the guts — the kind other people get when they leap off tall mountains with skis strapped to their feet — when I see someone coming, rolling their eyes and frothing a little. Yes! I think. Yes! Bring it on!
So, being stalked by a delightfully bright-eyed crazy person in Australia whilst doing readings from my novel, Toads’ Museum of Freaks and Wonders, was kind of cool. I mean, I thought only real celebrities got their own personal crazy person. Celebrities who are both skinny AND beautiful (beautiful on the inside doesn’t count when it comes to stalkers), like Catherine Zeta-Jones and Jodie Foster and Uma Thurman and George Harrison. Alright. Not George Harrison. He’s a beautiful-on-the-inside person like me, and anyway, his stalker ate his frozen pizza.
Dang. If my stalker ate my frozen kosher pizza I wouldn’t have taken him to jail like George. I’d have beaten him over the head with the empty box and made him go buy another pizza. Parenting books say the punishment must fit the crime.
I’m given to exaggeration on occasion but I’d never say I’m a celebrity or skinny or beautiful on the outside, so my personal stalker has been a wonderful surprise. Like winning the million-dollar lottery without the money. She’s little and cute and old and has a wonderfully hoarse smoker’s voice and she told me that she wanted, really badly, to hate Toads’ Museum of Freaks and Wonders and promised herself that it was going to be utter dreck, but then, annoyingly, she loved it instead and gave it a five out of five in her head and decided she’d come down to the university to tell me so herself.
Goldie Goldbloom is the author of Toads’ Museum of Freaks and Wonders, a novel about Italian prisoners of war in Australia during World War II. She will be blogging all week for the Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning.
In a deeply disturbed moment — one that lasted several years — I wrote a novel called Toads’ Museum of Freaks and Wonders. Earlier this month, it was published, and it was only then that I thought, ‘Oh dang…this may cause me some issues in my community, which is, yeah, let’s face it, Chassidic.’
Issues, nothing. It’s going to get me freakin’ excommunicated.
So, as a helpful guide for others, I wrote a list.
You know youâ€™re about to get excommunicated when:
1. You, a Chassidic Jew, write a book about a gay, cross-dressing dwarf getting it on with a hot Italian prisoner of war. In a river.
2. You, a Chassidic Jew, start hanging out with literary-type men in the local Starbucks, and have loud and heated conversations about why you are chintzing the sex scenes between the gay, cross dressing dwarf and the hot Italian P.O.W. and which particular details to include to improve said sex scenes. And are overheard by the local ordained Chassidic rabbi. Who blushes.
3. You, a Chassidic Jew, get stalked by women who are a little bit crazy. (Itâ€™s the same as a little bit pregnant.) And you donâ€™t mind all that much.
4. You, a Chassidic Jew, are outed as queer when your friend inadvertently blogs about your deepest secret. Thinking everyone knew already. Itâ€™s like when your brother said everyone knew you were a dyke because you wore dyke shoes. Dyke shoes???
5. You, a Chassidic Jew, are approached at your kidsâ€™ school, by the most religious person there, who politely asks where she can buy your book because she wants to read it. And when you say you donâ€™t really write things that she will like, she responds by saying that when she was younger she read Victor Hugo. And liked it.
6. You, a Chassidic Jew (really, really you are, you promise!), offer her three photocopied pages to read from your three hundred page novel and she takes you up on it and then you have a hard time finding three consecutive pages that you feel comfortable giving to her.