You Never Call! You Never Write!: A History of the Jewish Mother
In You Never Call, You Never Write, Joyce Antler provides an illuminating and often amusing history of one of the best-known figures in popular culture--the Jewish Mother. Whether drawn as self-sacrificing or manipulative, in countless films, novels, radio and television programs, stand-up comedy, and psychological and historical studies, she appears as a colossal figure, intensely involved in the lives of her children.
Antler traces the odyssey of this compelling personality through decades of American culture. She reminds us of a time when Jewish mothers were admired for their tenacity and nurturance, as in the early twentieth-century image of the "Yiddishe Mama," a sentimental figure popularized by entertainers such as George Jessel, Al Jolson, and Sophie Tucker, and especially by Gertrude Berg, whose amazingly successful "Molly Goldberg" ruled American radio and television for over 25 years. Antler explains the transformation of this Jewish Mother into a "brassy-voiced, smothering, and shrewish" scourge (in Irving Howe's words), detailing many variations on this negative theme, from Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint and Woody Allen's Oedipus Wrecks to television shows such as "The Nanny," "Seinfeld," and "Will and Grace." But she also uncovers a new counter-narrative, leading feminist scholars and stand-up comediennes to see the Jewish Mother in positive terms. Continually revised and reinvented, the Jewish Mother becomes in Antler's expert hands a unique lens with which to examine vital concerns of American Jews and the culture at large.
A joy to read, You Never Call, You Never Write will delight anyone who has ever known or been nurtured by a "Jewish Mother," and it will be a special source of insight for modern parents. As Antler suggests, in many ways "we are all Jewish Mothers" today.
What people are saying - Write a review
You never call! you never write!: a history of the Jewish motherUser Review - Not Available - Book Verdict
More than a history of Jewish motherhood, this book offers a fresh perspective on Jewish history, women's history, and the history of popular culture that is both informative and entertaining. Antler ... Read full review
The Jewish Mother
Mothering in the New Millennium
2 other sections not shown
Other editions - View all
Alpert American Jewish American mother audience Barron became become Berg Papers Berg's Borscht Belt caricature Catskills character child child-rearing cited Clifford Odets comedians comedy comic contemporary despite Erikson ethnic father female feminism feminist fiction film gender Gertrude Berg grandmother Grossinger Grossinger's Holocaust humor husband Ibid images of Jewish interview Jake Jennie Jewish family Jewish Group Meeting Jewish Humor Jewish mother jokes Jewish mother stereotype Jewish women Jews Judaism Judy Gold Landes and Zborowski lives Mamatalks Margaret Mead Marjorie Marjorie Morningstar maternal matriarch Mead Papers memoirs modern Molly Goldberg Molly's nagging novel Odets overprotective Philip Roth played Portnoy Portnoy's Portnoy's Complaint portrait portrayal rabbi radio relationship response Robin Morgan role Roseanne Roseanne's Roth's Ruth Benedict shtetl social Sophie stand-up stereotype story suburban television tells tion tradition University Press wanted Weaving Women's Words woman writing wrote Yiddishe Mama York