IV. first 3 pages of girl


Sleep Tight, Ya Morons

“Are you too busy again to come with us, Hannah?” Deborah asked as they left school.

“I’m afraid I have to pass up the thrill of going three blocks out of my way to watch the boys leaving the yeshiva,” Hannah said. “Not that I don’t enjoy seeing you and the others peek through your fingers and giggle and gossip about your marriage prospects.”

Forgive me. I should’ve known the rebbetzin-in-training would have no time for fun.” Of course Hannah wanted to be a rebbetzin. What girl didn’t? As a rabbi’s wife, perhaps the wife of a famous one, she’d have unlimited opportunities to perform tikkun olam, helping to repair the world, an obligation she considered to be Judaism’s most sacred. Rav Moscovitz would’ve been outraged had she told him her opinion, but she’d never do that. She listened to Rav Moscowitz, didn’t speak to him.

Deborah tucked an errant hair under her headscarf and pulled up her shapeless wool coat to cover her neck. Lips moving, she swayed back and forth as if davening in prayer. Hannah didn’t mind her friends teasing her for following God’s commandments. Having recently turned fifteen, soon to be introduced to her future husband, she had every reason to hope for the best as long as her sterling reputation remained untarnished.

It seemed to her that everyone, not just her friends, made fun of her. Just this morning at breakfast, she’d said, “God must love gentiles very much, He made so many of them.” Her father called her my little philosopher, and her mother sat with her elbow on her knee, fist under her chin, mimicking a famous statue. When she played with them, Hannah’s younger sisters, Rivka, Sarah, and Rebekah and her younger brother, Isaac, enjoyed laughing at her silliness. Maybe in part because she herself came from such a small family, Hannah thought five children would be the proper number for a rebbetzin who’d need time to help the members of the community and maybe even engage with the outside world.

In spite of their teasing, Hannah knew her parents loved her and liked it when she expressed her own thoughts…as long as she didn’t go too far. While there were many unbendable rules, the basic ones were clear and simple: to follow the Torah, put the needs of the community before her own desires, and honor her father, mother, and Rav Moscovitz.            Leaving Deborah, Hannah headed home through familiar streets. So far the winter of 1990 had been cold and wet. Today was no exception. She pulled her headscarf tight against the wind-driven drizzle and realized she’d been singing to herself: The morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy, a Yiddish lullaby she’d sung yesterday to Rivka as she tucked her in for her nap.

A man came from the other direction. She sensed him look at her. Lately men seemed to be staring at her all the time, probably her overactive imagination. She focused her gaze on the sidewalk, but not before noticing that, although he wore a yarmulke, the man didn’t have a full beard. Her father disliked the modern orthodox almost as much as he disliked reformed and conservative Jews, whom he called minim, heretics. The way he would spit out the word communicated that he considered them even worse than the Christian or atheist goyim. “We don’t dislike other people,” her mother had explained. “Our traditions and our community keep us safe and make us who we are. Those people who think it’s okay for men and women to touch in public or turn on lights on Shabbos compromise with the word of God.” She didn’t need to remind Hannah of God’s feelings about such compromisers and doubters.

Hannah had never had a conversation of more than a few dozen words with someone who wasn’t haredi, ultra-orthodox. But under the covers, with a flashlight, while her family slept, she would read decidedly un-orthodox books, even essays by Emma Goldman, a distant relative whom her family referred to rarely and then only in angry whispers. But what she wrote made sense: The most violent element in society is ignorance. And she could be funny: Every society has the criminals it deserves.

As she walked, Hannah delighted in the tiny droplets of rain that hit her face with cold little hellos, like angels brushing their wings against her skin. Yes, she was odd, but in a nice way. Or so she hoped.

The sky darkened and the droplets became full-fledged raindrops. The butcher, Mordechai Kaplan, stood in the doorway of his shop, looking out on the street, now deserted except for Hannah. His stomach seemed about to burst through his blood-splattered apron. Blood? Only small spots, but there shouldn’t have been any by the time the meat arrived at his store. The shochet must drain all blood from the carcass.

Although she’d known him for four years—a relative newcomer to the community, he’d arrived from upstate, when the community’s previous butcher died—Hannah averted her eyes, as she would with any man outside her home. But also, the way he always stared at her while he spoke to her mother seemed creepy. Yet another example of the overactive imagination Mother chided her about.

A puddle forced her to step closer to the shop, close enough to smell the rotten egg stink of bad chicken.

“Come in, warm up,” the butcher said.

She’d never do such a thing.

He stepped into the rain and looked up and down the street. Then he grabbed her wrist. Yanked her inside.

Hannah screamed. He slapped her.

“Shut your mouth!”

IV. girl is an entertaining book but not a great one + need help

In spite of its uniformly ecstatic reviews, girl is an entertaining book but not a great one. I intend to write a great one when I grow up; after all I’m only 66. So, if you read girl now, you’ll come off as terrifyingly au courant for having the prescience to read me before I was huge.

Hey, you out there in the blogosphere, how am I doing? Anyone reading this? Any suggestions of how I can reach more blogophiles (blogites? blogians?)?

III. First reviews on Barnes & Noble. Unfortunately none are funny.

First reviews on Barnes & Noble. Unfortunately none are funny.

  • John_Pryce

Posted December 21, 2014

girl follows 25 years of an extraordinary woman¿s life. Gorgeous

girl follows 25 years of an extraordinary woman’s life. Gorgeous writing, lyrical and revelatory, infuriating and hilarious, thrilling and touching, an absolutely beautiful book.

  • J__Mangual

Posted December 19, 2014

Compulsively readable. The heroine’s twenty-five-year journey fr

Compulsively readable. The heroine’s twenty-five-year journey from fifteen-year-old rape victim, rejected by her family, to survivor, to charismatic leader would be excruciating if it weren’t for Chan’s lapidary prose and lacerating wit. I can’t think of another author who alternates between breathtaking satire and profound insight as deftly as Chan.


  • chanfan369

Posted December 22, 2014

more from this reviewer

Another great read!! A jolting, unforgettable voice, girl has a

Another great read!! A jolting, unforgettable voice, girl has a raw energy we all responded to. It has real lyrical qualities even though the subject matter can be shocking.

  • W_E_Clarke

Posted December 25, 2014

You can¿t help but be pulled into the vortex of this devastating

You can’t help but be pulled into the vortex of this devastating, visceral, brutally intense, super-engaging novel, peppered with witty one-liners.

  • sconelly528

Posted December 25, 2014

Heartfelt, witty, and thought-provoking¿ Be ready to be spellbou

Heartfelt, witty, and thought-provoking… Be ready to be spellbound. girl is the kind of book you’ll want to press into the hands of everyone you know, just so they can share your obsession and you can relive it.

II. Dispelling Scurrilous Rumors

I feel compelled to respond to the savage scuttlebutt swirling around the publication of girl.

Scurrilous rumors aside, North Korea did not threaten to whack everyone who buys less than five of my books. Although contrary to my financial interest, I assure you that you have nothing to worry about if you buy just one… maybe two to be safe. If, however, you have balls the size of Sony’s, go with twenty-six.

I have been accused of being insensitive, but I would never be as mean-spirited as the President of Smith College, who was forced to apologize for saying “All Lives Matter.My consistent position has been that, with the exception of mine, those of my immediate family, and possibly those of one or two friends, No Lives Matter. To clear up another misunderstanding: when some people say “I can’t breathe” it’s not because they’re laughing so hard at the one-liners in girl that they are unable to inhale.

My publisher, bless his kindly heart, has expressed concern over the possible reaction of the ultra-orthodox community to the first chapter of girl, in which a fifteen-year-old member of an insular ultra-orthodox community, is raped in the back room of a kosher butcher shop and the chief rabbi demands that she blame a homeless black man. My son rolled his eyes. “How many ultra-orthodox you think are going to read your book?”

Contrary to rumor, I don’t plan to throw a brick, with my book taped to it, through the window of a kosher butcher shop, in order to stir up protests. I am considering hiring yeshiva boys to march in front of my Fifth Avenue office, and suggesting to Al Sharpton that he organize a counter-protest. As for PETA, the NRA, the ASPCA, SAGE, NAMBLA, ACLU, the NBA, the NFL, and NYU, all I ask is that you carry signs displaying the title and my name in large easily readable type, that you first contact your local news stations, and that you bring along a competent videographer. Best not to obtain a permit; arrests play well in the news, and incarceration is such a small price to pay for supporting such a worthy cause.

Welcome to the first entry in my Blog by Robert N. Chan

Welcome to the first entry in my blog. I intend to amuse and inspire, and also to promote my amusing and inspiring novel girl. Once you and I tire of that, I’ll move on to other topics.

The flyer announcing girl’s publication, complete with anticipate praise is attached below (I think, I’m not so good at this yet). Most authors wait until they receive actual reviews or obtain blurbs from other authors all too ready to exchange favors. What’s the point in that? As the author I know the book better than anyone and can make up my own blurbs.

I plan to submit real reviews in my next blog entry, but for that I need your cooperation my beloved readers. So, buy the book (it will be available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kindle etc. in a few days and is already available from my publisher Second Wind Publishing), read it, enjoy it, savor it, review it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads. I promise you won’t be disappointed. But if you are, hey, you’ll have the power of the pen, pan me. It will hurt my feelings but I’ll get over it…maybe.

Yes, I understand some of you will be offended by my humor, and others by the lack of it, but that’s part of the fun. There are plenty of authors out there who offend no one, but if that’s really what you want, save your money and stare at the wall.