My Father’s Books
Published: November 8th, 2007
By: Shelly Reuben

My father’s books

I was already in my thirties when I opened the first page of my father’s favorite novel, The Count of Monte Cristo. He had been counseling me to read it for…oh, I’d say about twenty years. Of course, I hadn’t listened. He was my father, for heaven’s sake. What did he know about literature?

Just about everything, it turns out. He, Samuel Reuben, was of that breed of first generation Americans who read to be transported: From poverty. From drudgery. From life’s cruelties. From repetitive and unrelenting monotony.

I will set the scene: Young Sammy Reuben, living with Yiddish speaking Russian immigrant parents, two brothers, and a sister in a Chicago tenement. He started to work in his father’s clothing store on Maxwell Street when he was eight or nine years old. He owned and managed his own tuxedo rental store by age fourteen. But in the secret recesses of his mind, he had been abiding all that time with swashbucklers, escaped convicts, knights in shining armor, and brave and noble warriors.

Let me tell you about the three books that my father loved: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. The Wandering Jew, by Eugene Sue.


The Evening Sun

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