DAY 2 in America: Eight books to read while the candles glow. What does the Barnes and Noble near Manhattan’s Lincoln Center and Julliard School know that I don’t? Their table of Hanukkah Book suggestions seems to include a book that is neither a bible nor a kosher cookbook.

Hanukkah Book Suggestions Table. Click for a closer view

Hanukkah Book Suggestions Table

But I digress… speaking of large latkas, my suggestion for Day 2 of the Festival of Lights is a book from last year about a spirited latke. The book is The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story by Lemony Snicket and Illustrated by Lisa Brown (McSweeney’s, 2007). Finally, we have a book that reinforces that Hanukkah is not the Jewish Christmas and is not about receiving presents. Well, maybe it does not overtly reinforce this idea, but it hints at it.

This is a book about hope in the face of being outnumbered. Like a fish out of water, here is a story about a latke living inside of a Christmas story. The Latke is screaming and it is wailing. And, nu, why shouldn’t it? Someone who lives in the house, the one without the Christmas lights adorning it, has tried to fry this latke in sizzling hot oil. Rather than jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire, this little latke has a good kopf, and it heads for the open window. Running from the house, the latke encounters many popular Christmas symbols, These symbols think the latke is nothing more than a cute hash brown,

Screaming Latka

Screaming Latka

a perfect or adequate side meal to a Christmas ham. Oh, what a deep and meaningful book this is. It gets more insightful with each reading. Why do the colored xmas lights fail to understand the latke? Why does the candy cane only focus on its minty fragrance and have no inclination for understanding that in a mosaic or multicultural society, not everyone desires a peppermint scent? This is one candy stick that is truly distateful and not to be licked. Each confrontation ends with the latke running and screaming in search of understanding and identity. And then the latke meets a pine tree in the deep dark cold forest (or perhaps it is the deepest reaches of the Jewish psyche?)

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1 Comment

  • Funny. They really displayed that book as a Chanukka gift suggestion? It does go in line with the claims two of our fellow bloggers made in the past…

    As for the latke book, when I was small, I had a book about a “thick, fat” pancake that jumped out of the pan and ran into the forest and met lots of interesting and possibly harmful “people” on its way. According to my mother, that book is based on a Russian fairytale in which a gingerbread man goes AWOL.

    BTW, I don’t mind a little minty flavour.

    Larry, dearest, will you be in in NYC during the first week of January?