[Book Review] One-Legged Mongoose: Secrets, Legacies, and Coming of Age in 1950s New York by Marc J. Straus

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By Marc J. Straus

Straus’s memoir opens in 1953 when, at the age of 10, his parents decide to take him out of public school and transfer him to Yeshiva, along with his younger brother. After enduring Anti-Semitism in public school, his community, and the Boy Scouts, Straus finds himself in a caring and nurturing environment where students fight with words rather than fisticuffs. While still faced with abuse at home from an unstable mother, Straus’s life turns an important corner onto a better path.

Straus is a gifted storyteller, presenting a very honest look at a two-year period that would shape the rest of his life. While many of the themes in this book are very serious, Straus manages to inject humor into his writing, creating a lightness that is needed at times.

While writing from a uniquely Jewish perspective, his story carries a universally relatable thread that applies to many immigrant stories that will appeal to any reader. This is definitely one not to be missed.

I’d like to thank Stuart Schnee for the free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

About the Author

Marc J. Straus

Marc J. Straus is a poet, writer, medical oncologist, and art collector who lives with his wife, Livia, in Chappaqua, NY. He is the author of numerous scientific papers and articles on contemporary art, and has published four poetry collections including Not God, staged Off Broadway. His poems and stories have appeared in Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, and many other literary journals. The Strauses founded Hudson Valley MOCA in Peekskill, NY, and Marc runs Marc Straus Gallery in New York City. One-Legged Mongoose is his first book of prose. Learn more at marcjstraus.com.

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