Friday, 6 May 2011

The pleasure of reading - second thoughts

Some time ago I wrote a post about books I like most. When writing this list I really did my best and tried to be objective.

These days I am reading a book I have already read about three or four times and there are others I have even read nearly ten times. But not one of those books and its authors are in my list.

So I think I owe them something.

The book I am reading right now - for about the third time I guess - is "Tuesday The Rabbi Saw Red" by Harry Kemelman. This is a thriller as it should be, a real page turner, but there is something more to it.

The whole plot is set in a Jewish community situated near Boston/USA and this rabbi is a male version of Agatha Cristie's "Miss Marple", well known to those who like the genre.

The author who looks a bit like Ian Fleming

wanted to write a book about Jewish life in the United States but his editor told him that such a subject would be unsalable. So he wrapped it all into a thriller/mystery story and had a huge success worldwide with his rabbi stories.

So while reading this you learn a lot about those American Jews and about their religion. Strange to say, most of those Jews depicted in this book (and in the other ones) are not very likeable at all. They are constantly quarreling among themselves, are self centered and do their very best to annoy our worthy rabbi and are constantly scheming to make him loose his job.

A very interesting part of the book are comparisons between the hebrew creed and christianity. Quite enlightening, at least for me who is very much interested in religions (though myself I have none).

A very endearing person is the Assistant District Attorney Bradford Ames (not a Jew) who belongs to a very old family in the town and considers he has a duty towards his fellow citizen. He is a kind of rebublican aristocrat made in USA. Then there is police chief Hugh Lanigan, a cop as a cop should be, intelligent, broad minded, friendly.

Reading what I wrote hereabove, I have to admit that I don't say much about the plot. But it is a page turner allright, you see the police and our rabbi chasing the different links that frequently become dead ends.

I am sure, this is a great book out of a great series though it will never make it to "world literature" and the author was certainly never eligible for the Nobel Price.

Last not least, if someone feels inclined to give it a try and read a book from Harry Kemelman just after having glanced through this post, I would like to hear how it goes.

Cheers to all of you.


  1. I envy people that have enough time to be able to read a book several times over. I have never done that. I barely have enough time to read a book all the way through just once.

  2. Hello Bruce,

    There are quite a lot of people who have never read a book twice. But why? There are so many things one does several times though one would be sufficient.

    As to time, well, that reminds me a remark from Churchill who was asked how he finds time to paint pictures (like Hitler by the way). He said it is not a question of time but of priorities.

    After having read this I never dare to say I don't have the time.


  3. The book sounds very interesting!! I love a good mystery.

  4. vielen Dank Herr Georg, for adding more names to my reading list, this sounds very interesting indeed! I am still reading Paul Bowles' Let It Come Down, very good too, if you like to read about weird Americans on the 50's living a strange existence in Tangier, Morocco, some of the passages are very philosophical though... hope you are doing fine!

  5. To Princess
    So sorry for answering this late. Yes Princess, this is good reading, really. I don't think you will regret this.

    To Berenice
    Sorry my dear for this late comment. Yes, Paul Bowles is high on my list thanks to you.

    To kjij
    Thanks for your appreciation. I do my best.