I’m of the school that states we’re each allotted a certain amount of alcoholic drinks in a lifetime. It’s an equation mostly based on girth, genetics and one’s propensity for destruction. At fifteen I discovered my depression could be lifted by cans of Budweiser. I welcomed the relief. I was free enough to be giddy, to elicit laughter from my friends for original creative thoughts. It was 1981 and we partied to a new sound that blasted its way into the ethos of suburban New Jersey. Metal. It came in a package of light beer, brown weed and the hurling of one’s head back and forth to the quick thump of rock. The musicians were Gods to us: rich, talented, drug aficionados who could party all day long and play in stadiums at night. From an education fraught with regulation we were amazed that such superheroes existed. They flipped off reporters, swigged tequila from the sunroof of limos and destroyed hotel rooms. Every effort we made to include ourselves in this energy left us more alive, drunk and included. I was as normal as 1980s Pumpkin Pie: divorcing parents, an almost invisible public school presence and a hope to board Ozzy’s Crazy Train, if it ever arrived at South Orange Station.
The Daddy Diaries is Joshua Braff’s newest novel, an authentic, funny, and honest tale about modern family life, is now available on Audio Book.
Jay and Jackie uproot their family of four from San Francisco after Jackie loses her job but finds a lucrative new one in St. Petersburg, Florida. Jay, a one-time copywriter and aspiring author, now plays househusband, caring for his troubled 13-year-old son and precocious daughter as they adjust to their new life. As his children begin to assert their independence, Jay realizes that the challenges of child rearing are only going to grow more difficult in the teen years.
What do you want to do when you grow up? my Grandma Sil always asked.
“I want to be a cantor,” is what I said. It made her smile and hug me. “Cantor” meant I was not only deeply engaged in the lessons of my yeshiva but also that I longed to sing about it. I have memories of Grandma Sil telling me I should take over the family law firm when it’s time. She said it in a tone that suggested, “Ya gotta do what’s right for the family, even if it’s wrong for you personally.” I found this philosophy all day in yeshiva. I understood my role. I just had no interest in being a lawyer. It was final. I’d better be a cantor. So I said it again. “I’m going to be a cantor, Grandma Sil.” She smiled and hugged me the same way, not realizing I might as well have said, “I’ll pass on the law.”
We had a girl in 2003. She’ll be 12 this summer. Unlike her older brother she is of pastel colors and random giggles. Her room is purple with unicorn-ish bedding and a cotton candy lampshade. Her hair-ties shimmer of glitter and some of her socks do too. She laughs a lot and says it feels good to do so and only recently began brooding, briefly, returning to silly spells on the carpet, a turtle on its back. Her addition to our chemistry is immeasurable, her desire for the tips of her hair to be blue, immense.
I am so excited to announce that my new novel, The Daddy Diaries, is available for pre-sale on Amazon and other book sellers. You can get it electronically or in print, although you’ll need to wait until May 5th to have it in your hands. I’ve attached the link. http://amzn.to/1NKeY61
Also, if you’re local, SF area, I’ll be reading from The Daddy Diaries on May 7th at the Del Valle Theater in Walnut Creek, CA. I’ll be all over, so, come say Hi and I’ll sign your book.
How to Spend the Hundred Million Facebook Dollars in Newark New Jersey in Three Steps.
They say write what you know. My first novel is about a yeshiva boy who leaves his religious education to attend a public school in suburban New Jersey. I drew from my memories of a building in Perth Amboy called Hillel Academy, a place that was so ill-prepared to teach that it was torn down a few years after I left. In fairness, it was the seventies and information on children and how to raise and teach them was not as ubiquitous as it is today. The “How To” book world would need another decade to even begin to school us on the craft of respecting children, our spouses our neighbors. But alas, it is important to recall the positive aspects of all periods of life, be they hard to come by or not. I used to love this teacher from Hillel named Rabbi Laloosh. The guy was probably 6 foot 11, wore orthopedic shoes and only said about six words in English. But he knew just what we yeshiva kids needed. He would position himself in the center of the entire student body just before we were dismissed for the weekend and during a song I forget the name of, let all three hundred of us scream OO-FARR-ATZ-TA!!! into his ears. I never learned what the word meant but it had to be the most cathartic primal scream any of us had ever had. Even as a second grader I had the feeling Rabbi Laloosh knew our school life sort of bit the big one. He was letting us vent as the Sabbath approached and I always admired him for it.
What a ride. Some wind at the writer’s back. What else could I ask for? Back from a solid two weeks of touring Peep Show–my second novel that received favorable praise from all the important folks including People Magazine and The San Francisco Chronicle, Kirkus/Booklist/Publisher’s Weekly. A writer’s livelihood is based on reviews and of course sales. If both are good, you stand to make a respectable royalty advance on your next project. So I’m feeling upbeat about it all. Was in New York for BEA (Book Expo America) where I signed books at the Algonquin booth and threw a party at my brother Zach’s place for anyone in publishing who happened to be in town. When my brother asked how many would be coming to get a sense of the rowdiness I told him that book people weren’t the same as movie people. No one has fake boobs and most of them wear shawls. He bet me there wouldn’t be one shawl. He was right. No tally on fake boobs. My favorite part of the evening was being able to acknowledge all the people at Algonquin Books who put out such quality reads each year. Oh we had a rousing old time. New York is a fun place to launch a book.
The task was to put together a compilation of music that represented my novel, Peep Show. The man at my publisher would mail the music to his associates, along with a copy of my book. For texture, I assumed. So I did it and then another person at my publisher said you’ve been invited to write about the compilation for a music blog so would you mind writing about your decisions to choose these songs. So I wrote this: