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Mi Abuela Rusa Y Su Aspiradora Americana (2000)

by Meir Shalev(Favorite Author)
3.75 of 5 Votes: 4
review 1: Nothing earthshattering, but cute and charming and engaging. In this memoir of his grandmother's fanatical housekeeping, Shalev gives you a sense of the people, the place, and the time. And there was one scene which I found absolutely hysterical. Incidentally, my husband liked this a lot more than I did which is pretty unusual. So you may want to give it a try despite my lukewarm recommendation. I suspect, though, that a sentimental interest in the time period and its people is helpful.
review 2: 19 year old Tonya arrived in Palestine in the early 1920s and declared war. No, not on the enemies of Zion, although she's not fond of them either. Tonya declared war on dirt. Fresh from the shtetl, Tonya meets and marries one of two brothers. Her choice is a scho
... morelar, a man not made for the backbreaking labor that a farm commune in Palestine requires. Had he gone to America, like his brother, perhaps he too would have been a wealthy man and Tonya a woman of leisure. But that's not who she picked, and that's not what happened. Tonya stays in Palestine and obsesses over cleaning her house and maintaining order over everything, from the chickens in the coop to her five children.Palestine, given its desert location has more than it's share of dust, but Tonya will not tolerate so much as one speck. This balabusta (not what you think, it's Yiddish for the kind of woman who uses a toothpick to get that last spect of dust from around the light switch...but that first guess wasn't really off base either) becomes a molshavnik (an Israeli versionof Amish), raises a family, farms, helps tend the livestock and watches a unique experiment grow and become part of modern Israel. She never gives up her battle against grime or her penchant for creating aphorisms and colorful phrases. At first, it's entertaining. After a while, you remember why you don't spend more time with your own grandmother.The vacuum cleaner in question is a gift from her rich brother-in-law. The one who chose Los Angeles, not Palestine, and who got rich without having to scrape a living out of the desert sand. The traitor, as he is also known. The vacuum cleaner is a symbol. Actually it's a lot of symbols. It's symbolic of the easy life of the L.A. brother, symbolic of Tonya's obsession with cleaning, symbolic of America's effete values versus Israel's pioneering determination. There's more, but you get the drift. Anyway, the one thing this vacuum cleaner is not, is a cleaning tool. Tonya keeps it locked away...so it won't get dirty? As a repudiation of the brother in law's lifestyle choice? Who knows. And after a while, who cares.The book has some moderately funny lines. The molshavniks eschewed all things frivolous and when a woman wanted to slandar one of her sex, she would whisper: "I hear she goes by the manicurist too." When sufficiently incensed (when, for example, someone leaves a fingerprint on a drawer handle, Tonya will turn on the culprit, skewer them with a steely glare and snarl: "I'll take chunks out of you." Funny? Meh. My grandmother was funnier. And didn't just threaten you with chunking. She chunked.Author Shalev is a columnist in Israel. I suspect his is one of those folksy little columns where no cliche is ever turned away. The story is thin, the situations familiar, and Grandma's wit seems to have been harvested from every Yiddishe Momma's garden of verbal delights.So, as my grandmother would say, enough with it already, it should only go be healthy someplace else. Three stars because the book introduced me to the Molshavnik movement, which deserves further investigation. less
Reviews (see all)
The book made me weep and laugh! A real "Meir Shalev"-book!!!!
Read 59 pages. Just couldn't get into it.
מעולה, מצחיק and sentimental:)
Extremely tedious I thought
Long and tedious.
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