Friday, June 3, 2011

Peep Show by Joshua Braff

Braff's Peep Show is a strange read. I didn't love it, it left a bit too much unresolved. Not in that "it makes you think" way but in a "and then he stopped writing" way. But it is an interesting story full of bizarre, flawed characters and it definitely dropped me into unfamiliar territory. I think this one sentence from Amazon's summary pretty much sums it up: In the mid 1970s, 16-year-old David Arbus is caught between his mother, whose Hasidic faith is becoming more and more central to her life, and his father, who runs a Times Square porn theatre.

So basically young David is thrashed back and forth between these two strange and polar opposite worlds, neither of which seems like a healthy environment for a young man. He's essentially unwelcome in his mother's life because he's refused to join the Hasidic faith, but he's not sinner enough to want to jump into the family business on dad's side either. David and his father cause a bit of a rukus and David is unceremoniously ousted from his mother and sister's new life and forced to take up with his father and his father's stripper/former porn star girlfriend. The book sticks pretty closely to the major events in the father's life over a 3-year period, but only as they're experienced by David, which feels odd. There's a lot of insight into changes in the porn industry in the mid-70s and also into the lives of Hasidic Jews. A jarring comparison to say the least, and an interesting one.

I was disappointed with the ending which resolved nothing (even negative resolution would have been more satisfying), but it's an interesting read from a young author. Braff has a good voice and an enjoyable writing style. His characters are well-developed and believable in their strengths and flaws. I'm thinking of picking up his first novel, The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green.

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