Not Me

Michael Lavigne, Author
Michael Lavigne, Author . Random $24.95 (300p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6311-6
Paperback - 315 pages - 978-0-8129-7332-7
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 978-1-58836-611-5
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Buried beneath ill-advised metaphors (a revelatory journal "was glued to my fingers, like when you touch something really cold, like an ice cube or a metal pole...") and a clunky structure is a provocative debut novel that might have said something profound about growing up in the home of Holocaust survivors. Michael Rosenheim, a divorced stand-up comic, is caring for his Alzheimer's-afflicted father when he discovers 24 volumes of his father's journals. In them, Heshel Rosenheim has detailed (in the form of a novel) that he is not a concentration camp survivor, but a former Nazi accountant at Bergen-Belsen who has posed as a Jew since the end of WWII. The novel flips back and forth between Heshel's story and Michael's attempts to prove it real; Lavigne mixes in subplots about Michael's relationship with his son, his pining for his ex-wife, and his sister's slow, painful death from cancer. The diary sections hold the most sway, and the novel would have been better served had Lavigne kept the present-day story as little more than a frame surrounding the account of how one man transformed himself from SS officer to pillar of the New Jersey Jewish community. Lavigne's book has tremendous potential for drama, but it avoids telling the story at its heart. Agent, Michael Carlisle. (Nov.)

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