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My Mother and Other Catastrophes

My Mother and Other Catastrophes

A darkly comic story of four generations of Melbourne Jewish women, the matriarch of whom - Gitl Silverstein - is 116 years old, a survivor and dominating scold, undiminished by suffering and hopeless dysfunctional progeny.

Gitl’s daughter Miriam, a vapid free-loving hippie filmmaker marries Morris, a meek, sorrowing schlemiel and would-be rock star. Their daughter Sandalwood becomes a drug-addicted stand-up comic who is forever falling down in mid-performance, picking up strays in rehab and transmuting family pain into wisecracks.

The story circles round the mystery of Dvorah, Gitl’s dead daughter, killed in Auschwitz, whom she never, never talks about. When we finally hear what happened, a fate both ordinary and searing, we begin to understand what makes a genial monster like Gitl both immense and incurable. She is the stuff of legend, magnetic, bossy, stoic, a living wound, well into her second century, determined the story must continue, the traditions must be maintained.

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    Rivka Hartman

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