Have You No Shame?: And Other Regrettable Stories

Overview

Growing up in white-bread Omaha, Nebraska, Rachel Shukert was one of thirty-seven students (circa 1990) in Nebraska’s only Jewish elementary school. She spent her days dreaming of a fantasy Aryan boyfriend named Chris McPresbyterian, a tall blond god whose family spoke softly in public and did not inquire after his bowel movements. She spent her nights frantically plastering her bedroom with pictures of intimidating co-religionists such as Henry Kissinger and Bette Midler, hoping to repel the Gestapo officers she...

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Overview

Growing up in white-bread Omaha, Nebraska, Rachel Shukert was one of thirty-seven students (circa 1990) in Nebraska’s only Jewish elementary school. She spent her days dreaming of a fantasy Aryan boyfriend named Chris McPresbyterian, a tall blond god whose family spoke softly in public and did not inquire after his bowel movements. She spent her nights frantically plastering her bedroom with pictures of intimidating co-religionists such as Henry Kissinger and Bette Midler, hoping to repel the Gestapo officers she was certain were lurking behind the drywall.

Even back then, Rachel knew she was destined for greatness. After winning the Omaha Metropolitan Area Theater Arts Guild Award for Best Youth Actress–and imagining herself as the biggest talent to come out of Nebraska since Montgomery Clift–Rachel finally arrives in Manhattan. Intent on making her mark in the glittering world of Show Biz, she isthwarted at every turn by episodes of anorexia, verbally abusive sock puppets, and a certain terrorist attack you may have heard of. She nevertheless soldiers on, as her people have done from time immemorial.

In this hilarious, mordant, and moving memoir, Rachel Shukert tackles topics as diverse and weighty as life, death, love, Jewish paranoia, and errant feminine hygiene products with a fresh and irresistible mixture of humor, brains, and candor, proving that having no shame can sometimes be a very good thing indeed.

Praise for Have You No Shame
"Shukert's sharp comic turns careen smack into the middle of our hearts...As in Lorrie Moore's stories, we feel a deep compassion through our laughter...As the title suggests, Shukert bears all on this journey. She may regret some of her antics, but we don't regret riding shotgun.” Los Angeles Times

“In her debut book of autobiographical essays...Rachel Shukert deftly pins down the essence of being young, brash, and sexually awkward in the mid 90's...recognizable and hilariously unpredictable...Shukert has a talent for pulling out the gritty, uncomfortable details that bring her stories into sharp relief...and packs enough force and honesty to send you reeling.” Time Out New York

“At times bawdy, at times bleak, Rachel Shukert’s laugh-out-loud-funny and gloriously written coming-of-age portrait will remind you of other precocious youngsters with morbid streaks–think of Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums and Salinger’s Glass family contemplating their annihilation over brisket.”
–Joshua Neuman, publisher of Heeb

“This book is so friggin’ funny! It’s twisted, surprising, and extremely hilarious, no joke. Shukert is a damn good writer, and there are even helpful footnotes for us gentiles! Brilliant!”
–Mike Albo, author of The Underminer

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal

Adult/High School

Shukert is saucy, Jewish, and unabashedly quirky. In this collection of autobiographical shorts, she shares memories and anecdotes about growing up in comparatively non-Jewish Nebraska with the pace and proficiency of a veteran auctioneer. The shining gem is the chapter "Nazis in the Walls," which describes eight-year-old, Holocaust-fixated Rachel checking her showerhead for Zyklon B pellets and playing a game with her mother entitled, "People Who Would Hide Us from the Nazis." Perhaps as a habit picked up in explaining religious and familial traditions to goyim in her home state, she also includes a multitude of educational and entertaining footnotes explaining Jewish culture that begin with such greetings as "Howdy Gentiles!" As bright and witty as the author obviously is, however, there is a self-destructiveness and darkness that is at once announced and subsequently glossed over to unsatisfying effect. The humor and irony can feel slightly relentless during moments in which anorexia, alcoholism, and dangerous sexual promiscuity are laughed at a little too loudly. On the other hand, the tenderness and sensitivity of scenes with her grandmother read like a tribute and love letter. All in all, this is a clever and amusing title that is sure to be appreciated by teens who feel just a little outside the norm.-Shannon Peterson, Kitsap Regional Library, WA

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345498618
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/29/2008
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.15 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.55 (d)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2008

    A reviewer

    A whirlwind tour through the eccentric mind of a 'shameless' heroine amdists the trials and travails of a Midwest Suburban Childhood 'and all the mediocrity that entails'. This book will have you in stitches! I read it over a week of subway commuting. Simultaneously self-aggrandizing and self-deprecating, these hilarious, semi-autobiographical stories had me snorting outloud on the A train, much to the consternation of my fellow commuters. The last story, about the author's Grandmother, is particularly powerful. I kept thinking to myself: Drat! I've picked it up to early, this would have been great on a plane or at the beach this summer.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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