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Guest post and excerpt: An American Family by Peter Lefcourt

I was recently sent a copy of Peter Lefcourts An American Family to review, and was lucky enough to be asked to be a part of Peters blog tour to promote the book. My review will follow later today, but in the meantime, you can learn a little more about the book from the excerpt and guest post below.

 Guest post and excerpt: An American Family by Peter Lefcourt Guest post and excerpt: An American Family by Peter Lefcourt

'Excerpt from An American Family

After working from eight in the morning to seven at night in the curtain shop, he'd had thirty minutes to grab a bowl of soup before heading off to East Side Evening High School, where he was learning English. So well, in fact, that his teacher encouraged him to go to college when he was older. But in 1935, people with college educations were selling apples on the street.

To keep the machines working, there were three separate lunch shifts, and now, at 1:30 p.m., only a third of the machines were idle. In the last row, near the exit, Hector, a short, dark PR who wore gold chains and flirted with the black women, was working over his machine with a cigarette dangling from his mouth ' a clear fire hazard and a violation of the rules.

'Peter Lefcourt on why he wrote'An American Family

My experience growing up as a first-generation Polish American Jew in New York was the genesis of this book. I wanted to capture the emotional and psychological effects of the clash of the immigrant Jewish culture with the adopted American one. I was not interested so much in telling'my'story personally ' this book is not an autobiographical novel ' but the story of all immigrant cultures, Italian, Irish, African-American, Vietnamese, as well as Jewish. My father came to New York from a shtetl village in Poland in 1922 not knowing a word of English and became a lawyer; I grew up playing stickball on the streets of Queens and became a writer; my son grew up in Los Angeles, went to Yale and became a humanitarian worker who at the moment is in Kyrgyzstan. This evolution, over merely three generations, fascinates me. Our life experiences have been so different, and yet there is an identity linking us together.

I wanted to set this story against the enormous social changes that took place in the second half of the twentieth century: the cultural rift created by the Vietnam War, the rise of feminism, gay identity, the pervasive influence of music. And to show how my characters navigated these changes. I created the fictitious family, the Perls, and decided to tell the story through the shifting point of view of five siblings, all, like me, born in the 1940's. I chose the two iconic dates of this period ' November 22, 1963 and September 11, 2001 ' as a parenthesis to enclose the era.

I was interested in the evolution of the family through all these changes ' how it adapts to the most dramatic and sweeping changes and still survives as the emotional focus of our lives. I disagree with Tolstoy: all happy families are'not'alike.

Support Read in a Single Sitting by purchasing An American Family'from Amazon

Follow the blog tour here.