Not Book Club Material

Not Book Club Material

By Aaron Zevy

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Not Book Club Material

"Your book," she said in her completely honest and unfiltered style, "is not book club material."

So begins Aaron Zevy's new story collection. Stories, memoirs and vignettes which are funny, often poignant, and sometimes thought provoking.

And while Aaron Zevy's new book "Not Book Club Material" may not fit with the traditional book club offerings, you will be hard pressed to find a more amusing, self-deprecating narrator, eccentric cast of characters, or surreal, meta tales that blur the line between fact and fiction, for your book club.

Even if you are the only member.

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Please find below a 3-story sample from the collection.


Magazine Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

A collection offers short stories that blend truth and fiction.

In a prefatory note, Zevy warns readers of his tendency toward literary embellishment, the untidy merger of remembrance and invention, resulting in tales “of both imagination and lived experiences mixed together to delight and entertain.” Sometimes, a flight of fancy is obvious—for example, in two stories the Angel of Death is a principal character, described in a gamesomely comic manner that typifies the author’s style throughout this volume: “He has the requisite goatee and a cowlick which looks like it is held down by gel. He is wearing khakis and a button-down shirt. If I didn’t know he was the Angel of Death I would have guessed he was an assistant manager at Whole Foods.” When the Angel of Death unexpectedly shows up for dinner and allows the narrator to resurrect someone, the man randomly blurts out the name of Italo Svevo, the Italian novelist. Zevy’s signature device is the hazy amalgamation of fact and fantasy, and the disruption of the quotidian by the jocosely absurd. The author discusses birdwatching, the life of a germaphobe before the pandemic, stamp collecting, and food—he’s at his best proving that the extraordinary exists within the ordinary. Readers will be drawn into these largely brief vignettes, and the line of demarcation between the real and the imagined will cease to matter. In fact, the audience will learn to embrace the messy mixture.

Zevy is a keen observer of others; one of the most memorable depictions here is of his father, an intellectually gifted man with depths that cannot be fully plumbed. During a youthful soccer game, he pulls a coach aside and renders him counsel that leads to a victory. When asked what advice he offered, he replies: “The 1956 Hungarian national team. The Magyar formation.” Other times, the author turns his gimlet eye to the times—here, he reflects on what is irretrievably lost in this age of technological convenience: “The internet has taken a little mystique out of collecting stamps and coins. Because everything is available. You aren’t really collecting. You are acquiring. Your collection can be as big as your bank account allows. There doesn’t seem to be any sport or skill to it.” All the stories have the tenor of an intimate confidence—minor events are recounted in an informally anecdotal style brimful of lighthearted insights. This is a companionably diverting selection of stories, vibrantly humorous and thoughtfully perspicacious. Those in search of an easy but still engaging work will enjoy these offerings.

A cheerfully funny and astute assemblage of tales.

Starred Review from Blue Ink Review

Author Aaron Zevy is back with another boisterous collection of short stories guaranteed to delight and entertain.

Zevy and his zany collection of friends and relatives from previous books return to act as the author’s foils in his predicaments and self-deprecating stories. The author deftly conjures tall tales, perhaps based on reality — or not. The laugh-out-loud quality of his work makes fact or fiction irrelevant.

In three particularly inspired stories, the Angel of Death comes calling. An affable fellow fond of chess, he becomes a welcome visitor. “If I didn’t know he was the Angel of Death,” Zevy quips, “I would have guessed he was an assistant manager at Whole Foods.” Soon, the Angel of Death returns, inquiring if Zevy plans to attend a wedding the following day. Zevy answers in the affirmative, to which the Angel replies, “You might want to take an Uber.”

While many stories center on Zevy’s dating woes, poker and golf games, always ending with a brief but hilarious punch line, his tour de force lies in wildly creative fictional stories such as The Pitch, in which Zevy has created Leviticus and Numbers, “the biggest pr/marketing” firm in all of 5th century Babylonia. The product? Hanukkah. Some gift-giving? Maybe a miracle? A winning marketing campaign is born!

Aside from his distinctive humor, Zevy’s genius lies in his writing style. He quickly sets the scene, provides background and dives into the conflict. His writing has a staccato-like quality, with short sentences, often paragraphs themselves, moving the story quickly along and making reading a delight. Finally, he strikes with his characteristic punchline. Like a good comedian, he always delivers.

Zevy uses many Jewish themes, but his humor is universal. Despite the book’s wry title, any book club group or reader who appreciates comedy in the form of a cleverly created short story, will welcome Zevy’s formidable skills as a humorist and author.

From California Bookwatch

"Not Book Club Material is a memoir packed with wry humor, mouth-watering revelations, and insights that are candid, thought-provoking, and fun all in one. The introduction to this collection captures all these facets in a few succinct lines: "Before my first collection came out, I toyed with the notion of adding a recipe section in the middle of the book because many of the stories were about the Egyptian Jewish food I was raised on. Books, especially self-published story collections by completely unknown former powder paint salesmen are, as it turns out, surprisingly hard to market and I thought the recipes might be a compelling hook. One July morning, over a breakfast of scrambled eggs at the cottage, I made the mistake of casually suggesting it might be of interest for book clubs. I actually thought it was a pretty good idea. This led my sister-in-law to utter the sentence which became the family’s favorite line in the summer of 2020. “Your book,” she said in her completely honest and unfiltered style, “is not book club material.”

Thus, the title was born...and a rollicking ride through a life that introduces (and quickly answers) the question of what makes a good book club read and that book clubs…

Above all, enjoy vivid, thought-provoking material. Ironically, Not Book Club Material's stories represent these very things, and it would be a shame if book clubs judged the title by the size of its tales. Here lies bright, sparkling jewels of insight and experience in fun mix of reality and fantasy that features a host of characters and dilemmas and more than light references to food.

The delightful family stories usually conclude with ironic twists. Each stand-alone piece adds to the strength of the collection as a whole, providing enticing tidbits of facts and whimsy to delight the heart and mind like sugar on the tongue.

Perhaps now, more than ever, there is an exceptional need for the laughter, fun, and family reflections of the stories in Not Book Club Material. And these facets make for, ironically, perfect book club material indeed as readers navigate the Jewish culture, Egyptian heritage, and observations of food, love, and learning that permeate this collection.

Jewish, literary, and general-interest humor and memoir readers who delight stories of in food and family will all find Not Book Club Material a major attraction. And, yes, book clubs interested in any of these subjects should put it high on their reading lists."

"In Not Book Club Material Zevy proves he is a master of the comedic form. These stories are brilliant vignettes spanning countries and decades, linked by family and culture—heartbreaking and hilarious at once, they will leave you wishing these characters were your own family and friends."