Leave the Build­ing Quickly

Cyn­thia Kaplan
  • Review
By – December 9, 2011

Cyn­thia Kaplan’s voice in this wide-rang­ing col­lec­tion of essays is infec­tious. Spend­ing an after­noon with this book is like hav­ing lunch with your warm, slight­ly wacky friend from camp whom you haven’t seen in a while. Kaplan feels famil­iar, and she writes with the assump­tion that she can tell you any­thing and you won’t hold it against her. In this way her irrev­er­ence is dis­arm­ing. Only lat­er do you real­ize there are seri­ous sub­jects buried here. 

Jump­ing from the pit­falls of going on a fam­i­ly cruise to feel­ings of mor­ti­fi­ca­tion after a poor show­ing for an audi­tion for The Dai­ly Show with Jon Stew­art,” Kaplan offers her­self up for the read­er to judge, warts and all. Some­times, as when she declares she has lost her belief in God, she writes her­self into a cir­cle. Read­ing Kaplan’s essay Los­ing My Reli­gion” one con­cludes that sure­ly she believes in some sort of high­er being after all. But Kaplan is stead­fast­ly irrev­er­ent, and offers up this cre­do instead: Believe what you want to believe and don’t be an asshole.” 

Kaplan’s great gift is mak­ing us real­ize that we’ve all had dark moments and that it’s okay. Her edges are there but soft­ened by humor. She’ll tell you any­thing, and you’d tell her any­thing too.

Sara Leopold Spin­nell is a co-founder of Trav​elu​jah​.com, a web­site that pro­motes Chris­t­ian trav­el to Israel. She lives in New York City with her hus­band and two children.

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