MAX BAER AND THE STAR OF DAVID
By Jay Neugeboren
Publication date: February 9, 2016
"Neugeboren has never been better than in this lush, joyful novel—as erotic and mysterious as The Song of Songs, and as clear as a heavyweight champion's punch in the gut. I loved it."
--ROBERT LIPSYTE, author of An Accidental Sportswriter
"Max Baer and the Star of David is a strange and strangely beautiful tale that conjures up a golden era of boxing in the way A. J. Liebling did in The Sweet Science. I was enchanted from start to finish, and when I closed the book I thought 'Damn, this dude can write!'"
--GARY SHTEYNGART, author of Little Failure: A Memoir
"This lively, high-spirited novel is an irresistible tribute to the sweet science, and a thrillingly jaunty evocation of an almost forgotten era. Neugeboren has, as always, the gift of creating vivid characters and the imagination to put them through delicious travails."
--PHILLIP LOPATE, author of Portrait Inside My Head
"One of the most accomplished and original writers of our time, Jay Neugeboren has now outdone even himself. With its larger-than-life characters who are all too human, Max Baer and the Star of David is a powerful and starkly gritty literary page-turner. Sorry, but I can't resist--this novel is a total knockout."
--BINNIE KIRSCHENBAUM, author of Hester Among the Ruins
"Max Baer and The Star of David reside at the rough, mysterious edge between history and myth. The book will bewitch readers with its own powerful song and haunting love story, filled with regret and a deep rage against America's racial sins, past and present."
--JEROME CHARYN, author of I Am Abraham
When Jay Neugeboren's first novel, Big Man, was published, James Michener called it "as good a sports novel as has ever been written." Now, nearly a half-century later, Neugeboren is publishing MAX BAER AND THE STAR OF DAVID (Mandel Vilar Press Trade Paperback Original; February 9, 2016), his 22nd book--a remarkable novel that is centered on the life of the world heavyweight champion Max Baer. In 1933, Baer--who was one-quarter Jewish and wore a Star of David on his boxing trunks--won the greatest fight of his career, defeating Nazi Germany's heavyweight champion, Max Schmeling, before a crowd of 60,000 fans at Yankee Stadium. A year later, he earned the heavyweight title, defeating Primo Carnera in front of 50,000 fans at Madison Square Garden Bowl. Baer was a flashy performer and showman who entertained America during the Great Depression. At the height of his fame, he starred in more than a dozen movies, played the vaudeville circuits, and was romantically involved with innumerable actresses, starlets, show girls, and socialites.
As E. L. Doctorow did in Ragtime, in MAX BAER AND THE STAR OF DAVID Neugeboren has created fictional characters who interact with this real historical character. At the heart of this novel are two mysterious and memorable fictional creations, Max Baer's intimate companions, Horace and Joleen Littlejohn, who present themselves to the world as husband and wife but are, in fact, brother and sister. They become best friends and sometime lovers to Max in this story about the world of boxing, and about Max's life in and out of the ring. The narrator is Horace, and Neugeboren has given him a distinctive and compelling voice in what is, among other things, a strange and affecting interracial love story like no other, where love and violence lie down beside one another in astonishing and surprising ways.
In the past eight years, Neugeboren has published seven books, three of them prize-winning novels. "Neugeboren has always been something of an innovator," Madison Smartt Bell wrote in The Boston Globe, "blending narratives so apparently disparate that their combination would seem impossible until he accomplished it. His feverish productivity in the 21st century has a whole new quality, though--a tidal wave of story ideas that flow so fast it seems almost impossible to write them all down."
MAX BAER AND THE STAR OF DAVID is Neugeboren's most daring, original and memorable tale yet.
JAY NEUGEBOREN is the author of 22 books, including five prize-winning novels (The Stolen Jew, Before My Life Began, Poli: A Mexican Boy in Early Texas, 1940, and The American Sun & Wind Moving Picture Company), two prize-winning books of nonfiction (Imagining Robert, Transforming Madness), four collections of award-winning stories, and two award-winning screenplays (The Hollow Boy, Imagining Robert).. His stories and essays have appeared in many publications, including The New York Review of Books, The Atlantic Monthly, The American Scholar, The New York Times, Psychiatric Services, Ploughshares, Black Clock, and Hadassah, and have been reprinted in more than 50 anthologies, including Best American Short Stories and The O. Henry Prize Stories. A professor and writer-in-residence for many years at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Mr. Neugeboren has taught at other universities, including Stanford, Columbia, Indiana, S.U.N.Y. at Old Westbury, and Freiburg (Germany). He now lives and writes in New York City, where he is on the faculty of the Writing Program of the Graduate School of the Arts at Columbia University.
Publicist: Rachel Tarlow Gul, rachel[at]otrpr.com; 201-503-1321