PLAYING RIGHT FIELD: A Jew Grows in Greenwich George Tabb. Soft Skull (PGW, dist.), $13.95 paper (144p) ISBN 1-932360-40-2
Fistfights, bodily functions and raucous comedy fill this thin, episodic childhood memoir from a seminal New York City punk musician (Furious George)/journalist (The New York Press). Tabb was a nice Brooklyn-born Jewish boy who, after his parentsı divorce, was forcibly relocated by his father to Connecticutıs rarefied, WASPy suburbs. ³Greenwich didnıt like Jews,² Tabb writes, ³but for some reason, my father liked Greenwich.²
Facing what he found to be a hostile and frequently anti-Semitic community, young Tabb stood his ground, even when (as it often did) it meant he was beaten to a pulp. He eventually earned some respect by shoving a pair of hooligans out the back of a moving school bus; he earned some more by punching out a Little League first baseman and sparking a bench-clearing brawl. When he wasnıt defending his heritage, Tabb was blundering through more conventional pratfalls of childhood: puking on carnival rides, ogling older girls and torturing local wildlife (one particularly uproarious vignette involves an ax, a rifle and a giant turtleıs Rasputin-like refusal to die).
Underlying all the raw humor is Tabbıs clear pain over his parentsı divorce and a searing rage against his abusive father. Some tales require suspension of disbelief (e.g., was Tabb really sexually assaulted by a monstrous dog? Did his school principal really help him get back at a blind bully?).
On the whole, however, Tabbıs wry recollections of growing up will be darkly funny and all-too-familiar to anyone who still smarts at memories of middle school. (June)