Review: Lipshitz Six, or Two Angry Blondes 9780452288065

Review: Lipshitz Six, or Two Angry Blondes 9780452288065

Title: Lipshitz Six, or Two Angry Blondes
Author: T Cooper
ISBN: 9780452288065
Price: $17.50
Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada

Review by Rosanna Haroutounian

Rarely does a novel manage to intertwine memoire and historical fiction in a way that is both entertaining and revelatory.

T Cooper’s Lipshitz Six, or Two Angry Blondes starts with the arrival of the Lipshitz family on Ellis Island, NY, in 1903. They immediately lose one of their four children, son Reuven.

We are then taken back to the family’s native home in Russia, to a time and place where Jews were being persecuted and terrorized long before the atrocities of the Holocaust had begun.

We learn of the family’s hardships in the United States – the challenges of both integrating into a new society and building a new life with each other. Migration and relocation change people, and the added stress of losing a child weigh heavily on mother Esther Lipshitz to the detriment of her relationships with her other children and husband.

The family’s story becomes somewhat comical and at the same time more disheartening when Mrs. Lipshitz believes she has found her long-lost son…in adventurer Charles Lindberg. Within the novel, Cooper includes newspaper clippings reporting on Lindberg’s flights and the kidnapping and murder of his first child – which became known as the “Crime of the Century.”

As someone who doesn’t know much about Lindberg, it was interesting to see how society’s fascination with celebrity, including the media’s reporting on it, has evolved and still fundamentally stayed the same.

The family’s story ends tragically in many ways, and yet it continues to be told to present day in the second part of the book, this time from the author’s perspective. We learn that the “Lipshitz Six” were actually T Cooper’s family, and his reconnection with their past becomes part of his own journey in writing this book after the success of his first novel, None of the Parts.

As Cooper’s story continues though, it becomes harder to delineate fact from fiction. As occurred in the first part of the novel, this retelling seems to incorporate some historical fact with a lot of embellishment and imagination.

Was T Cooper born a woman? Did he work as a DJ/Eminem impersonator under the name Slim Lindy? Did his parents really die in a car crash that pulled him back to Texas from New York?

The final pages, in which Cooper seems to admit that the story is not entirely true, beg the reader to delve deeper into his engrossing story. One will find that this author’s writing encompasses many themes that tie together past and present and call into question our own understanding of real events.

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