A young man is torn between his Hasidic mother and his father—a Times Square pornographer—in this “smart, funny, heartbreaking novel” (Jonathan Tropper, author of This Is Where I Leave You).
David Arbus will be graduating from high school in the spring of 1975. His parents are divorced, and he can join the world of one or the other: embrace his mother’s Hasidic Jewish sect, or go into his father’s line of work, running a burlesque theater in the heart of New York’s Times Square. He decides to join the family business. What else would a healthy seventeen-year-old with an interest in photography do?
From the acclaimed author of The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green, Peep Show is the bittersweet story of a young man split between a mother trying to erase her past and a father struggling to maintain his dignity in a less-than-savory business that is growing edgier by the day. It’s both a “humane, compassionate and very moving” story of a broken family, and an insightful look at the elaborate rituals, assumed names, and fierce loyalties of two secret worlds that strips away the curtains of both (Kirkus Reviews).
“An interfamilial culture clash of epic proportions . . . Braff makes the most of the comic potential inherent in his outlandish premise, but he sees well beyond the laughs. This is a powerful, sensitively told coming-of-age story about the ways in which rigid worldviews extract their pounds of flesh from us all, especially the young.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Haunts long after the final page.” —People
Braff s second novel (after The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green) is a straightforward family drama set amidst an extreme clash of cultures. In the mid 1970s, 16-year-old David Arbus is caught between his mother, whose Hasidic faith is becoming more and more central to her life, and his father, who runs a Times Square porn theatre. A seemingly modest act of rebellion makes David s choice for him, and he quickly finds himself enmeshed in the business of adult entertainment. While his increasingly ill father resists innovations like peep booths and in-house blue movies, David takes photography gigs and tends to his dad. His attempts to maintain a relationship with his sister bring David into sporadic contact with his mother, but rather than reconciling, mother and son only grow further apart. Braff brings together two very different cultures with sympathy for both, but the slim novel leaves little room to adequately develop each member of the family, and, as a result, the story doesn t quite sing. Nevertheless, David and his parents present an intriguing contrast in the struggle to uphold a set of values and the painful necessity of compromise.