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Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Sue William Silverman talks about Pat Boone (+Giveaway)
What do you think of when you see white buck shoes? If you’re of a certain age, Pat Boone should come to mind. With that thought, I’m delighted to welcome author Sue William Silverman here today to talk about her new memoir, THE PAT BOONE FAN CLUB: MY LIFE AS A WHITE ANGLO-SAXON JEW. Sue will be talking about ‘April Love’ and is offering a copy of her memoir as a giveaway. Please see the end of the post for details. Here’s a synopsis of her book: Gentile reader, and you, Jews, come too. Follow Sue William Silverman, a one-woman cultural mash-up, on her exploration of identity among the mishmash of American idols and ideals that confuse most of us—or should. Pat Boone is our first stop. Now a Tea Party darling, Boone once shone as a squeaky-clean pop music icon of normality, an antidote for Silverman’s own confusing and dangerous home, where being a Jew in a Christian school wasn’t easy, and being the daughter of the Anti-Boone was unspeakable. And yet somehow Silverman found her way, a “gefilte fish swimming upstream,” and found her voice, which in this searching, bracing, hilarious, and moving book tries to make sense of that most troubling American condition: belonging, but to what? Picking apricots on a kibbutz, tramping cross-country in a loathed Volkswagen camper, appearing in a made-for-television version of her own life: Silverman is a bobby-soxer, a baby boomer, a hippy, a lefty, and a rebel with something to say to those of us—most of us—still wondering what to make of ourselves. Please join me in welcoming Sue as she talks about ‘April Love: My Longest Spring.’ How fitting: It’s April, and I’m here to reveal my first (albeit unrequited) love. You may know this man of my dreams, Pat Boone, a 1960s pop-music idol, who had a huge #1 hit with his song “April Love.”
As a teenager, I knew that song by heart and played it on the piano. I clipped photos and articles about Pat Boone from celebrity magazines. I owned a girls’-style pair of his famous white buck shoes. I lived in New Jersey at the time, and got a ticket to his weekly TV program, “The Pat Boone Chevy Show,” filmed across the Hudson River in Manhattan. My love was so intense that I savored breathing the very air he breathed when I attended the show.
This teenage crush went much deeper, however. I explore this in my new memoir, The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew. As I sat in the audience during his TV show, I thought: “Yes, I suppose I loved his voice, his music. At least, if asked, I would claimto love his songs. What else could I say since there was no language at that moment to specify what I most needed from Pat Boone?” What I needed was to be adopted by him. I wanted Pat Boone to be my father. He already had four daughters; would he really notice if a fifth suddenly appeared?
But Why Pat Boone? In addition to being a singing sensation, Pat Boone is a conservative Christian. Since my Jewish father abused me, I chose the one man who seemed the very antithesis. Through Pat Boone, in this book, I also examine my desire to flee my Russian Jewish heritage and pass as Christian – a reaction not only to my scary father – but also a desire to belong, to fit into the WASPy suburb in which I lived. Pat Boone, and his squeaky-clean, wholesome WASPy image, seemed the most perfect father on the planet. My need for what I saw in Pat Boone was so enduring that much later, in 2003, when I happened to see a newspaper ad for a concert, to be held in a mega-church near where I live in West Michigan, I purchased a ticket immediately. After the concert, during which he sang “April Love” and other golden oldies, I threw caution to the wind and barged backstage to meet him. I tracked him down to a small room behind the stage. I blurted out what he meant to me growing up. I told him about my father…and how he, Pat Boone, represented hope and safety. He listened. In The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew,I write about how this meeting led to another one, a year later, when Pat Boone invited me to his Christmas concert. Afterward, he invited me to talk with him backstage in his green room. Referring to my dangerous childhood, he said to me, “You remind me of a flower growing up through concrete.” An April flower, I thought.
While he never did adopt me (and I’m a bit too old for that now anyway), he did see me as if through the eyes of a loving father, how a father should see his daughter.
Pat Boone sings, “April love might slip through your fingers.” I wrote this book so that my first love, my paradoxical first love for Pat Boone would not slip through mine.
Who was your teenage crush? How long did it last? Sue, thanks so much for joining us today and sharing this look at why Pat Boone was an important part of your childhood. He made an impression on a lot of people. Now here’s a bit of background on Sue. Sue William Silverman is the author of three memoirs. Her first memoir, Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You, won the AWP award series in creative nonfiction. Her second, Love Sick: One Woman's Journey through Sexual Addiction (W. W. Norton), is also a Lifetime Television original movie. Her latest is The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew. Her poetry collection is Hieroglyphics in Neon, and Fearless Confessions: A Writers Guide to Memoir (University of Georgia Press) reveals all she knows about the art of memoir writing.
She is associate editor of Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction, and teaches in the MFA in Writing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has appeared on such national TV shows as The View, Anderson Cooper-360, and CNN Headline News.
For more on Sue and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. GIVEAWAY DETAILS: This giveaway is for one copy of The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew.The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only. The giveaway ends next Tuesday. To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and following the instructions. It may take the widget a few seconds to load, please be patient.
Thanks so much for stopping by today. Remember what
Sue asks, I’m curious to know too. Who was your teenage crush? How long did it last? a Rafflecopter giveaway
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