Sunday, August 30, 2009

Norma Klein

Readers know I like Norma Klein. So yay, here is a great article about her: Teen Shpilkes
Young-adult novelist Norma Klein taught me about sex and feminism, in a very Jewish world
by Eryn Loeb at Tablet: A New Read on Jewish Life.

One of the things I don't like about both the blogosphere and current Internet culture is it's all so "this five minutes." It seems like authors and books who existed pre-Internet days disappear and are unknown. I think that's part of the reason I adore Lizzie Skurnick's Shelf Discovery; it's about the books we may have blogged about and shared if blogs had been around.

Anyway, Loeb captures all I remember and love about Klein; and why I wish they were back in print. And, sorry to be repeating myself, but she remains my go-to author when I say, "yes, there WERE books for older teens back in the day.... yes, they DID talk about (and have) sex."

In Loeb's words: In Klein’s stories, everyone lives or ends up in New York, a city populated by secular Jews who keep yellowing back issues of the New York Review of Books stacked on their coffee tables (and where Klein herself was born and lived for most of her life). The parents are often professors or writers, friendly, progressive types who love their children but insist on having their own lives, too. They all own The Joy of Sex and are happy to discuss its contents with their precocious, introspective offspring, but those kids would rather study it furtively on their own. There are affairs, divorces, abortions, ardent feminists, gay characters, and lots of sex—all portrayed with Klein’s distinctive casualness and honesty, at a time when nearly all of those things were destined to stir up controversy.

Guess what? These things STILL stir up controversy. If it weren't for the fact I have no time for challenges, etc., I'd say we needed a Norma Klein Challenge!

Go, read the article. Because I want to copy the entire thing here. And I want to now haunt used bookstores for Klein.

Link from Jenny Schwartzberg, Newberry Library.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy


tanita✿davis said...

The only thing I remember of hers is Mom, the Wolfman & Me. Our library may have carried more, but I wasn't allowed to check out fiction, so I read her on the sly -- all the others were always checked out!

tanita✿davis said...

("on the sly" meaning standing in front of the shelf, casting surreptitious looks out for my mother.)

Liz B said...

One of the branches I worked with had a community that intensely supervised reading thru teenage years. I always found "hidden" books in the library where kids had left them from reading on the sly and never reshelved them.

Liz B said...

Meaning, I never reshelved them, not talking about the teens!

Ms. Yingling said...

I haven't been able to get rid of her titles, even though they don't get checked out much. I always think of the 1970s when I read books set in NYC-- it seems to have been quite the fad.

modest-goddess said...

I collect her books. I have 2 bought as a teen in the 90s and the other 8 I found at used book stores.