Whipping Boy: The Forty-Year Search for My Twelve-Year Old Bully
by Allen Kurzweil
“A captivating hybrid of investigative journalism and memoir…Kurzweil is not simply settling a private score; he’s standing up for anyone who has ever been bullied.” -Chicago Tribune
“Kurzweil does the delightfully unexpected: He morphs his story from a poignant memoir into a true-crime thriller.” -NPR.org
“Whipping Boy is like nothing I’ve ever read, an investigative memoir that’s honest, funny, sad, and edge-of-the-chair suspenseful. I loved it.” -Dan Okrent, author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition
From the acclaimed author of A Case of Curiosities, Allen Kurzweil’s true account of his lifelong search for his boarding school bully
“A fascinating, multi-pronged morality tale about victimhood, skewed perception and the liberation of facing your demons.” —Washington Post
Equal parts childhood memoir and literary thriller, Whipping Boy chronicles Allen Kurzweil’s search for his twelve-year-old nemesis, a bully named Cesar Augustus. The obsessive inquiry, which spans some forty years, takes Kurzweil all over the world, from a Swiss boarding school (where he endures horrifying cruelty) to the slums of Manila, from the Park Avenue boardroom of the world’s largest law firm to a federal prison camp in Southern California.
While tracking down his tormentor, the author encounters an improbable cast of characters that includes an elocution teacher with ill-fitting dentures, a gang of faux-royal swindlers, a crime investigator with “paper in his blood,” and a monocled grand master of the Knights of Malta. Yet for all its global exoticism and comic exuberance, Kurzweil’s riveting account is, at its core, a heartfelt and suspenseful narrative about the “parallel lives” of a victim and his abuser.
A scrupulously researched and richly illustrated work of nonfiction that renders a childhood menace into an unlikely muse, Whipping Boy is much more than a tale of karmic retribution; it is a poignant meditation on loss, memory, and mourning, a surreal odyssey born out of suffering, nourished by rancor, tempered by wit, and resolved, unexpectedly, in a breathtaking act of personal courage.
Allen Kurzweil is a prize-winning novelist, children’s writer, inventor, and journalist. His work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the New Yorker, the New York Times, Smithsonian, and Vanity Fair. He is a graduate of Yale University and the recipient of Fulbright, Guggenheim, and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island.
The Rhode Island Hadassah book club meets the first Monday of every month, except for holidays, religious and national. Our first meeting of the year, in January, is devoted to voting on our choices of books for the rest of the calendar year. We usually read books of Jewish interest, but read a book each year that is non-Jewish, and of interest.
Marilyn Kagan is the coordinator. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org