The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew

The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew

The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew

The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew


Gentile reader, and you, Jews, come too. Follow Sue William Silverman, a one-woman cultural mash-up, on her exploration of identity among the mishmash of American idols and ideals that confuse most of us--or should. Pat Boone is our first stop. Now a Tea Party darling, Boone once shone as a squeaky-clean pop music icon of normality, an antidote for Silverman's own confusing and dangerous home, where being a Jew in a Christian school wasn't easy, and being the daughter of the Anti-Boone was unspeakable. And yet somehow Silverman found her way, a "gefilte fish swimming upstream," and found her voice, which in this searching, bracing, hilarious, and moving book tries to make sense of that most troubling American condition: belonging, but to what?

Picking apricots on a kibbutz, tramping cross-country in a loathed Volkswagen camper, appearing in a made-for-television version of her own life: Silverman is a bobby-soxer, a baby boomer, a hippy, a lefty, and a rebel with something to say to those of us--most of us--still wondering what to make of ourselves.


Pat boone dazzles onto the stage of the Calvary Reformed church in Holland, Michigan. He wears white bucks, white pants, a white jacket with red- and blue- sequined stars emblazoned across the shoulders. I sit in the balcony, seats empty in the side sections. I’m here by chance, by luck. Kismet. a few weeks ago I happened to see his photograph in the local newspaper, the Sentinel, announcing the concert— part of Tulip Time Festival— only twenty minutes from my house. I stared at his photo in alluring black and white, just as, back in junior high school, I gazed at other photos of him. I ordered a ticket immediately.

This less- than- sold- out crowd enthusiastically claps after the opening number, his big hit “Love Letters in the Sand.” But there are no whistles or shrieks from this mostly elderly, sedate, female audience. No dancing in the aisles, no mosh pit, no rushing the stage. If a fan swoons from her upholstered pew, it will more likely be from stroke than idolatry. the cool, unscented air in the auditorium feels polite as a Sunday worship service— rather than a Saturday- night- rock- and- roll- swaggering, Mick Jagger kind of concert.

Yet I am certainly worshipful. of him. I am transfixed. Breathless … as if his photograph— that paper image— is conjured to life. I watch only him through binoculars, me in my own white jacket, as if I knew we’d match.

Pat Boone began as a ’50s and ’60s pop singer, though he has now aged into a Christian music icon favored by— I’m sure— Republicans. That I am a first- generation Russian American atheist liberal Democrat gives me no pause, not even as he per-

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