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Surviving my mother: A mostly true memoir

"Growing Up Golem: Learning to Survive My Mother, Brooklyn, and Some Really Bad Dates" is a memoir of Donna Minkowitz's real life, but written as though she were a golem -- a magical clay servant-creature out of Jewish legend. Frustrated by the debate over James Frey and inaccuracies in memoir, Minkowitz decided to write one that was "87% true," with the remaining 13 percent, material that could not possibly be true because it was physically impossible. For example, the assertion that she is a golem created by her mother — a wildly domineering person who did, in fact, in real life tell Minkowitz and her sisters that she could do powerful Jewish magic.

My mother loved to make things. One day, when I was thirty-two, my mother created a giant, half-lifesize doll that looked just like me. (This, reader, is absolutely true.) It had yarn hair the same color and kink as mine, and real corduroy pants just like the ones I wear. My mother called it the Dyke Donna doll. (Mom was very pro-gay and lesbian, so she always felt very happy using words like "dyke.") The doll wore a stripey red shirt like a circus performer, along with real, removable, bright red booties made of felt, and extravagantly long curling eyelashes that my mother drew in by hand, quite lovingly. It had big red apple blush-marks on its cheeks, like Pinocchio as I have always seen him drawn. It stood a discomfiting three feet tall (I myself am only five feet two). My mother gave it to me as her gift, to keep in my tiny apartment. I had to keep it under my bed because I couldn’t bear to see it sitting in my chair. But I felt like I was hiding a child away there, without food or anyone to talk to.

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