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The American Sun & Wind Moving Picture Company

Jay Neugeboren

Publication Year: 2003

The American Sun & Wind Moving Picture Company is an enchanting tale set in the silent film era.  Beginning in 1915, in Fort Lee, New Jersey, where a Jewish family makes one and two reel silent films, the novel is composed of six chapters, each a discrete silent film in itself.

Joey, the too-beautiful-to-be-a-boy son of moviemaker, Simon, and his actress wife, Hannah, imagines stories that his uncle’s camera turns into scenes for their movies. Witness to and participant in the rapid technological advances in film, from the movies his family makes, to the advent of the talkies, Joey is cast in both male and female roles, onstage and off.  When the woman Joey loves murders her abusive husband and sends Joey from his New Jersey family disguised as the mother of her own children, he embarks on a cross-country journey of adventure and hardship, crossing paths with the likes of D. W. Griffith, Lillian Gish, Mary Pickford, and “Roxy” Rothafel.  Finally, reunited on the opposite coast with his uncle, and with the woman he has never stopped loving, Joey’s wild journey—and life!—arrive at a moment as unpredictable as it is magical.

In an outrageously original tale worthy of a studio whose moguls might have been Kafka, Garcia Marquez, and Isaac Bashevis Singer, reality and illusion merge and separate, leaving the audience spellbound even after the final curtain falls.

Published by: Texas Tech University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv

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1915

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pp. 3-27

In the forest, high above the lake, I imagined that I was, far below, trapped beneath the black ice. I gathered sticks for kindling, pressed them close to my chest, then brought the bundle, like a gift, to the edge of the woods. I looked down at the lake and saw that Mister Lesko and his horse were already on the ice, clouds of steam pouring from the horse’s ...

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1918

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pp. 28-61

We sat in the projection room, watching French, American, and German soldiers die, while on screen Mister Griffith, in a pith helmet, walked among them. Miss Gish and Billy Bitzer, Mister Griffith’s cameraman, sat behind me with my mother and father. Miss Gish’s skin was the fairest I had ever seen, and her almond eyes were even larger than my mother’s. Her auburn hair was braided and tied in a brown taffeta schoolgirl’s bow, ...

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1921

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pp. 62-81

My father entered the room, not from the door I would use when we filmed the scene a second time—a scene in which Mister Gardner and Laura would kiss for the first time—but from the open side of the platform. His face bright with curiosity, he approached a large sheet of glass that was fixed in an upright position beside the divan and, eyes closed, he ran his palm across the glass’s upper ...

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1924

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pp. 82-109

I sat with my back to our stove, and while Regina stood on a chair beside me brushing out my hair, I pictured Eddie walking from his house to mine, crossing the small footbridge that spanned the Menomonee River, and I wondered what it might be like to be Eddie ...

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1927

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pp. 110-138

While I sliced peaches into thin crescents, Regina dusted the kitchen table with flour, rolled out a second pie crust, and complained about Marvin: Where was he, and why was he always running away, and what if he didn’t return home before it was time to leave? We wouldn’t miss the matinee at the Granada, would we? Or the ...

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1930

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pp. 139-160

Karl was waiting for me on the patio, studying the week’s Torah portion as he did each Saturday morning before we left for synagogue, but before I could join him, Eduardo, who was in charge of the house servants, detained me with a gloved hand and told me that Mrs. Davidoff—Karl’s wife—wished to see me privately in her ...

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About the Author

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p. 161-161

Jay Neugeboren is the author of nineteen books, including two prize-winning novels (The Stolen Jew, Before My Life Began), two award-winning books of nonfiction (Imagining Robert, Transforming Madness), and four collections of award-winning stories. His stories and essays ...

Also by Jay Neugeboren

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pp. 163-164


E-ISBN-13: 9780896727809
E-ISBN-10: 0896727807
Print-ISBN-13: 9780896727793
Print-ISBN-10: 0896727793

Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2003

Series Title: Modern Jewish Literature and Culture

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