Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America (Bloom)

I read a newspaper article about this a while ago, so when I saw the book for five bucks, I figured I’d give it a try. I’ve been to Iowa a few times, and I am Jewish. The juxtaposition of ultra-Orthodox Jews and small-town Iowa seemed rich with possibilities. And Bloom outlines them, folding in the narrative of his own family’s move to Iowa. The problem here is Bloom. He has the recipe for a strong, important piece of creative non-fiction, and he swings and misses. As a narrator, he’s just annoying and he makes himself into more of a character in the conflict that he needs to be. In the Afterword, he takes a kind of martyr’s pride in the fact that people seemed to love or hate his book when it first came out. I neither loved nor hated it. It was just kind of . . . meh. Mostly, I wish another writer had been present to write the story.

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