The Book of the Week is “Rebel Without Applause” by Jay Landesman, published in 1987. This ebook-autobiography has a few slightly distracting misspellings, but reveals the zeitgeist of Landesman’s generation.
Landesman was born in 1920. The talents of the author and his two brothers and sister differed considerably. Thus, he and his siblings got along well, as they weren’t in competition. However, his mother had control issues, so his parents opened separate antique shops; his mother in St Louis, and his father in Houston.
Landesman became distracted from the family business, and got into magazine publishing in New York. He co-founded “Neurotica”– launched in March 1948. The publication contained articles of famous writers’ anxieties to which readers could relate. Sex was a taboo topic of discussion but violence was all the rage.
In 1949, Landesman dared to ask for a divorce from his first wife. Describing himself as a “respectable Jewish boy” he later met someone new, who had looked up his family in “Dun & Bradstreet”– the keeper of the data in those days.
Landesman had two sons with his second wife, Fran. Their wealth allowed them to hire a nanny. “We were like any other ordinary American family enjoying the Ed Sullivan Show. Instead of a six-pack, we shared a couple of joints.”
Read the book to learn of what later transpired with the author’s second wife, about their collaboration on theater productions, his relationship with Lenny Bruce, and where the family moved to and why.