The Deal: A Novel of Hollywood by Peter Lefcourt read by William H. Macy

L.A./Hollywood relived by a suicidal ex-husband ex-producer ex-Jew with a  screenplay.  The screenplay is  fresh off the bus from New Jersey, delivered to Charlie (post suicide) by his 21 year old nephew, Lionel. It is about Disraeli but that doesn’t matter.  The screenplay is his property, and all Charlie needs to make it (again)  in this town is one property.

The screenplay, nicknamed Ben and Bill, or Bob and Bill, somehow makes itself known to a studio,  an agent, a casting director,  who manage to get a black pro-Israel karate expert to play Disraeli, the Jew.

The characters are mimetic:

The  studio executive assistant has the unwieldy habit of walking to the nearest ladies room, locking the door, and screaming.   (It is always a mistake to actually read the screenplay.) We visit with her and her Beverly Hills therapist in intimate one hour sessions,  at which she arrives  hystericized with laughter. The therapist is straight out of DSM-V and full of noteworthy advice, relevant to any and all professional women over 35 who work among men. Cut out a small nook of rationality inside the chaos.

The director is paid in  dinar which have been blocked from leaving Yugoslavia, and doesn’t talk to the actors.  The actors are not worth characterizing.

Prepare to grow a dry grin and giggle while reading.

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon performed by Peter Riegert

1948 is a strange time to be a Jew. For Lonzman, the hero of this tale, it is the year the Jews in Israel are driven into the sea, and get a small beachside strip of Alaska as compensation. It is the year Lonzman’s father arrives in downtown Sitka where blue kerchiefed Jewesses sing Negro spirituals with jewish lyrics that paraphrase Lincoln and Marx. It is the year Lonzman’s father plays chess “like a man with a toothache, hemhorroids, gas, and a headache whose moves are like successive pieces of terrible news for the survivor Jews who play him. The survivors populate The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, with their chess, their holy books, their rabbis, their clans, their latkes, their typical and atypical habits, their policemen, their crimes.

But I’m curious, do you really feel you’re waiting for Messiah?
It’s Messiah, what else can you do but wait?

And Palestine? When Messiah comes all the jews go back there, to the Promised Land, fur hats and all?
I hear Messiah cut a deal with the beavers…
No more fur.

Landsman and Berkot confront Schmerle, the doorkeeper of the Verbove Rebbe, whose son, Mendele, has been found heroin-dead in a seedy hotel. Schmerle

“… looks east, looks west, he checks with the mandolin man on the roof…
“There is always a man on the roof with a semi-automatic mandolin.”