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The Last Jewish Virgin

Janice Eidus

Publication Year: 2010

Lilith Zeremba, a young woman rebelling against her intellectually complex, feminist Jewish mother, is The Last Jewish Virgin. In this playful and provocative, sensual and suspenseful novel, Janice Eidus merges the timeless, romantic myth of the vampire with contemporary life in volatile New York City—and beyond. Determined to make her own way—on her own terms—as a successful Jewish woman in the world of fashion, Lilith finds herself in a place where mythology and sexuality collide. She's drawn to two men in ways that feel dangerous and yet inevitable: the much older, wildly mercurial and mesmerizing Baron Rock, and Colin Abel, a young, radiant artist determined to make the world a better place, one socially progressive painting at a time. The Last Jewish Virgin, an innovative and universal tale of longing and redemption, refreshes and reinvents the classic vampire myth for a contemporary world in which love, compassion, faith, and politics are forever evolving and intersecting in surprising and original ways.

Published by: Red Hen Press

Title Page, Copyright, Acknowledgments, Dedication, Epigraph

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Chapter 1

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pp. 1-

Now, these many years later, I am so much older than she ever lived to be. I remember her so vividly, although I’ve not seen her for so long, and I find myself marveling anew at how close she and I once were, despite our many differences. ...

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Chapter 2

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pp. 2-4

The Bennett Institute of Art and Design was a tall, sleekly renovated building downtown on the west side near the river in a neighborhood that not too many years before had been utilitarian, unfashionable, and downright seedy in spots. But now it was upscale and chic, dotted with restaurants, ...

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Chapter 3

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pp. 5-7

Tall and lanky, oozing attitude, bearing his middle years like a sexy, ageless musician, Mr. Rock stood in the doorway of the classroom, stooping slightly to fit. He wore tight black jeans that clung to his thighs, black sneakers and a black cotton sweater, and, oddly, mirrored sunglasses, ...

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Chapter 4

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pp. 8-18

From the front of the room, Mr. Rock continued to smile at me, his teeth shimmering in the light. The eyes of everyone in the room were on me, and I guessed that I was turning the color of fire beneath my white face powder. Finally, he stopped smiling and his expression went blank. ...

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Chapter 5

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pp. 19-24

The rest of my first day at Bennett was a blur. I had one other class, English, with a mahogany-haired poet, Ms. Ginsburg—Jewish. In fact, her earnest demeanor and sensible shoes reminded me a lot of my mother. I sat quietly in her classroom, dutifully writing down the names of the books we’d be reading ...

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Chapter 6

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pp. 25-29

A week went by before my next class with Mr. Rock, during which, thankfully, I had no more dreams, images, visions, or whatever they were. But I continued to feel unmoored. Much as I tried to concentrate in my other classes—Philosophy, English, The History of Fashion—I couldn’t put him out of my mind. ...

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Chapter 7

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pp. 30-35

Another uneventful week passed, and then on Friday night, the night before I was to pose for Mr. Rock, I lay in bed, miserable, eyes shut tight, trying to will myself to sleep. As on most Friday nights, my mother was at Tante Molly’s apartment, observing Shabbat with her, lighting candles and reciting feminist prayers. ...

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Chapter 8

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pp. 36-47

On the way downtown to Mr. Rock’s studio, the subway came quickly, and I sat in the last car, which was almost empty. On one end sat a redhead in a sequined T-shirt and skin-tight jeans, her head bobbing along to music piped into her ears via an iPod. ...

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Chapter 9

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pp. 48-50

I walked as quickly as possible down the dark stairs inside Mr. Rock’s building. Outside, in the real world, it was dusk. The sky was a rose color, and the air had grown cool. A sour, rank odor assaulted me from a dumped pile of garbage on the sidewalk. I hesitated in the doorway, waiting to catch my breath, ...

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Chapter 10

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pp. 51-53

I sensed that something was wrong the instant I entered our apartment. My mother and Mike sat across from each other in the living room. Mike, his large frame scrunched into the big easy chair, wore one of his ultra-professorial outfits: a faded tweed jacket worn at the seams, and ill fitting corduroy pants. ...

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Chapter 11

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pp. 54-56

On Sunday night I lay in bed, again unable to sleep, my nerves jangly as I fitfully tossed and turned. My downstairs neighbor, a twenty-something guy with red, stringy hair, was playing heavy metal music that pounded in my ears. Rising from bed, I searched for Mr. Rock’s necklace in my purse, ...

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Chapter 12

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pp. 57-66

Bennett’s cafeteria was factory-like and jam-packed, not a particularly welcoming or inspiring place, but I joined the line for food despite the fact that I wasn’t hungry. I had some time to kill before Mr. Rock’s class, and nowhere else to go. The dismal breakfast buffet offered a choice of plain rolls, plain muffins, and plain bagels, ...

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Chapter 13

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pp. 67-74

The rest of the week, I had no visions, and I didn’t run into Mr. Rock, and a part of me was glad. But another part of me, some new part that I didn’t recognize, craved more drama and tension, and wasn’t satisfied with the mundane quality of my days. Mr. Rock had said that I possessed hidden secrets; ...

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Chapter 14

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pp. 75-78

Bennett’s library was a large, windowless basement room, empty that afternoon except for two middle-aged African American women, probably faculty members, both wearing colorful blouses and shoulder-length dreadlocks, reading silently and companionably together at a table in the center of the room. ...

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Chapter 15

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pp. 79-90

As I expected, I slept very little during the night. I was too warm, too cold, and then too warm again. My downstairs neighbor was playing classical music as loudly as he usually played heavy metal. Was he, like me, being transformed into someone he didn’t fully recognize? ...

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Chapter 16

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pp. 91-101

That night, after having watched the film numerous times, with every single nerve in my body ignited, I lay in bed on top of my blanket in my moonlit room, staring at the ceiling and listening to my neighbor’s heavy metal music below. Over and over, I replayed in my mind the love scene between the Count and Miss Lucy, ...

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Chapter 17

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pp. 102-108

All afternoon, after Colin left, I tried to draw. In my head, I envisioned a mini-dress the golden color of champagne, and composed of equal parts silk brocade and nylon mesh. But my fingers wouldn’t cooperate, and I finally gave up and watched some Fashion Week videos on the Internet. ...

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Chapter 18

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pp. 109-112

I stuck to my plan all week and didn’t return to Bennett. I spent a lot of time in bed, and also did some uninspired sketches and wasted time reading fashion blogs. I managed not to see my mother all week. Every morning I waited for her to leave before I got out of bed. She and I left cursory notes for each other. ...

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Chapter 19

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pp. 113-122

By morning, I felt somewhat better. Although weak, I was no longer shivery and cold, and my head had returned to its normal size and weight. I remained in bed and soon heard my mother tramp loudly to my door. She entered without waiting for me to invite her in. ...

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Chapter 20

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pp. 123-125

Early the following evening, after a day in which I’d avoided my mother for the umpteenth time, I forced myself to get up and walk over to my closet. The New Age Workshop was scheduled to begin in a little over an hour, and I needed to be strong in order to confront whatever awaited me there. ...

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Chapter 21

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pp. 126-148

It was a balmy fall evening, and the sky was clear. I’d calmed myself as best I could after my phone conversation with Tante Molly, and I’d taken the subway to the midtown hotel that was hosting the New Age workshop. As I stepped through the hotel doors, reminding myself once again to breathe, I spotted Colin waiting for me ...

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About the Author

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Janice Eidus has won two O. Henry Prizes, the Independent Publishers Award in Religion for her recent novel, The War Of The Rosens, and numerous other awards for her writing. Her other books include The Celibacy Club, Vito Loves Geraldine, and Urban Bliss, ...


E-ISBN-13: 9781597094382
E-ISBN-10: 1597094382
Print-ISBN-13: 9781597093934
Print-ISBN-10: 1597093939

Page Count: 160
Publication Year: 2010

Edition: First

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Subject Headings

  • Vampires -- Fiction.
  • Jews -- Identity -- Fiction.
  • Mothers and daughters -- Fiction.
  • New York (N.Y.) -- Fiction.
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