David Arbus’ parents have been living in different worlds for some time. Upon his high school graduation, he is forced to decide between the two. His mother is a baal teshuva and establishing her place in the Hasidic community in Brooklyn. His father has been running a porn theater in Times Square for decades. Since he cannot accept his mother’s religious world full of rules, David moves to the city to be with his father. He is intrigued by his father’s business, but struggles to keep ties with his younger sister who has chosen to stay with their mother in the Hasidic world. David’s interest in photography sends him on gigs for his father’s associates. A dream world for an eighteenyear– old, yet David keeps his distance from the seedy side of the industry, which has gone from basic burlesque to elaborate, explicit movies produced and distributed by the theaters. Braff draws an interesting parallel between the peep show aspect of David’s father’s theater to the screen drawn across his mother’s Hasidic world, yet the novel is too brief to allow the reader much familiarity with either.
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Jessica B. Horwitz lives in Minneapolis, MN and works in public media.