May 13, 2013
A memoir that plays off the Jewish legend of the golem. The author’s mother told Minkowitz that she could do Kabbalistic magic she had learned from her grandparents, and growing up, Minkowitz believed her. Her mother, a compulsively creative and unusually powerful person, exerted even more sway over Minkowitz and her sisters than mothers normally do over their offspring, so it is the “magical realist” premise of the book that instead of giving birth to her, her mother actually created Minkowitz as her own personal golem. In the book, Minkowitz is a golem who tries to pass for human, becoming a radical left-wing journalist for the Village Voice, trying to have relationships with real human women, but she remains, inescapably, a mere imitation of a person, programmed to take commands, not have feelings or take pleasure. Matters come to a head when Minkowitz turns 36 and all the false trappings of her life — career, friendships, sex life, even her body — suddenly flare into crisis. How can she acquire a human soul?