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Lot Six

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In a world where everyone is inventing a self, curating a feed and performing a fantasy of life, what does it mean to be a person? In his grandly entertaining debut memoir, playwright David Adjmi explores how human beings create themselves, and how artists make their lives into art. Brooklyn, 1970s. Born into the ruins of a Syrian Jewish family that once had it all, David i In a world where everyone is inventing a self, curating a feed and performing a fantasy of life, what does it mean to be a person? In his grandly entertaining debut memoir, playwright David Adjmi explores how human beings create themselves, and how artists make their lives into art. Brooklyn, 1970s. Born into the ruins of a Syrian Jewish family that once had it all, David is painfully displaced. Trapped in an insular religious community that excludes him and a family coming apart at the seams, he is plunged into suicidal depression. Through adolescence, David tries to suppress his homosexual feelings and fit in, but when pushed to the breaking point, he makes the bold decision to cut off his family, erase his past, and leave everything he knows behind. There's only one problem: who should he be? Bouncing between identities he steals from the pages of fashion magazines, tomes of philosophy, sitcoms and foreign films, and practically everyone he meets—from Rastafarians to French preppies—David begins to piece together an entirely new adult self. But is this the foundation for a life, or just a kind of quicksand? Moving from the glamour and dysfunction of 1970s Brooklyn, to the sybaritic materialism of Reagan’s 1980s to post-9/11 New York, Lot Six offers a quintessentially American tale of an outsider striving to reshape himself in the funhouse mirror of American culture. Adjmi’s memoir is a genre bending Künstlerroman in the spirit of Charles Dickens and Alison Bechdel, a portrait of the artist in the throes of a life and death crisis of identity. Raw and lyrical, and written in gleaming prose that veers effortlessly between hilarity and heartbreak, Lot Six charts Adjmi’s search for belonging, identity, and what it takes to be an artist in America.


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In a world where everyone is inventing a self, curating a feed and performing a fantasy of life, what does it mean to be a person? In his grandly entertaining debut memoir, playwright David Adjmi explores how human beings create themselves, and how artists make their lives into art. Brooklyn, 1970s. Born into the ruins of a Syrian Jewish family that once had it all, David i In a world where everyone is inventing a self, curating a feed and performing a fantasy of life, what does it mean to be a person? In his grandly entertaining debut memoir, playwright David Adjmi explores how human beings create themselves, and how artists make their lives into art. Brooklyn, 1970s. Born into the ruins of a Syrian Jewish family that once had it all, David is painfully displaced. Trapped in an insular religious community that excludes him and a family coming apart at the seams, he is plunged into suicidal depression. Through adolescence, David tries to suppress his homosexual feelings and fit in, but when pushed to the breaking point, he makes the bold decision to cut off his family, erase his past, and leave everything he knows behind. There's only one problem: who should he be? Bouncing between identities he steals from the pages of fashion magazines, tomes of philosophy, sitcoms and foreign films, and practically everyone he meets—from Rastafarians to French preppies—David begins to piece together an entirely new adult self. But is this the foundation for a life, or just a kind of quicksand? Moving from the glamour and dysfunction of 1970s Brooklyn, to the sybaritic materialism of Reagan’s 1980s to post-9/11 New York, Lot Six offers a quintessentially American tale of an outsider striving to reshape himself in the funhouse mirror of American culture. Adjmi’s memoir is a genre bending Künstlerroman in the spirit of Charles Dickens and Alison Bechdel, a portrait of the artist in the throes of a life and death crisis of identity. Raw and lyrical, and written in gleaming prose that veers effortlessly between hilarity and heartbreak, Lot Six charts Adjmi’s search for belonging, identity, and what it takes to be an artist in America.

30 review for Lot Six

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    paints a vibrant portrait of the playwright as a young gay man, growing up on the margins of Brooklyn's affluent Syrian Jewish community, born to a family whose fortune had long been lost, several years younger than his other siblings, who felt connected to each other and their past in a way he did not. in swift prose Adjmi charts his struggle to rise above his turbulent upbringing, come to terms with his queerness, and become a great artist. the writer's lifelong wrestling with feelings of alie paints a vibrant portrait of the playwright as a young gay man, growing up on the margins of Brooklyn's affluent Syrian Jewish community, born to a family whose fortune had long been lost, several years younger than his other siblings, who felt connected to each other and their past in a way he did not. in swift prose Adjmi charts his struggle to rise above his turbulent upbringing, come to terms with his queerness, and become a great artist. the writer's lifelong wrestling with feelings of alienation forms the core of what turns out to be a linear, arresting memoir.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alice Tolan-Mee

    always visceral, often thrilling - sometimes deeply uncomfortable, yet i wanted to steep in this world adjmi so precisely communicates. the book pulled me, tumbling, through an emotionally driven outline of one individual's growth patterns - at once i felt both voyeuristic and uniquely interwoven into his life. i take his voice with me now, forever.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Razel

    I gulped this entire thing down in two sittings. In retrospect, I probably read the second half of the book too quickly – I loved it so much, and wish I'd taken more time to read it more carefully, but once I'd started, I just couldn't stop. Adjmi himself is the eponymous Lot Six — which is Syrian Jewish slang for queer, but the author really teases out the meaning of queerness here. It’s not just his sexual orientation that’s different, it’s his orientation to the world around him. He’s an exil I gulped this entire thing down in two sittings. In retrospect, I probably read the second half of the book too quickly – I loved it so much, and wish I'd taken more time to read it more carefully, but once I'd started, I just couldn't stop. Adjmi himself is the eponymous Lot Six — which is Syrian Jewish slang for queer, but the author really teases out the meaning of queerness here. It’s not just his sexual orientation that’s different, it’s his orientation to the world around him. He’s an exile from the beginning. An exile in his family, and his community and religion. This is so much a book about artists as perennial outsiders, but the author takes a real microscope to that fragile period before the artist knows who or what he is—before he’s really formed. Adjmi is so out of place, so awkward and terrified and stunted for so much of the book that it hurt my heart to read. The book is his attempt to prop up a fake self and make it real, which he can’t fully do—but in some sense he can, and does, both in his art and in his life. Part of the joy of this book is in its ambiguity. Adjmi is looking at the relation between artifice and reality, and it’s a blurrier line than one might think. References to Hitchcock and Nietzsche and Jean Paul Gaultier pop up all over, but not a pretentious way—this is about a kid trying to understand the world as an interface that will help him to unlock himself. Art and pop culture (the Ricky Schroeder references reallllllly took me back) become tools for gauging reality and possibility. I loved reading this book and I loved swimming in the mind of the author. There’s a lot I’d love to quote, but I can’t, because it’s an advance copy and that would get me in trouble. But the writing here is really powerful, really strong and bracingly honest. Also, I should say I also found it hilarious. I honestly laughed so hard and so loudly at certain sections my partner asked me to please leave the apartment until i was finished reading. There are countless brilliant lines and descriptions. I sort of want to sit down and read it again because I feel there was so much I missed the first time. I’m really glad I ended up reading this. I received an advance review copy of Lot Six from the publisher, HarperCollins.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Carmiel Banasky

    Reading Lot Six, I was almost convinced that I was the narrator, that I lived this life, so different from my own. Each sentence is so vibrant and full of feeling, so lived in, that those feelings became mine. It is both one of those books that I couldn't put down, and that I had to put down every few moments to write myself (with a bit of angst that I'll never write quite like this). It is a harrowing and loving tale of growing up, and becoming, without the sign posts most of us have. I can't r Reading Lot Six, I was almost convinced that I was the narrator, that I lived this life, so different from my own. Each sentence is so vibrant and full of feeling, so lived in, that those feelings became mine. It is both one of those books that I couldn't put down, and that I had to put down every few moments to write myself (with a bit of angst that I'll never write quite like this). It is a harrowing and loving tale of growing up, and becoming, without the sign posts most of us have. I can't recommend David Adjmi's memoir enough.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Estelle Laure

    David Admji is already known for the flawed, complex, extreme characters he brings to life on the stage, and now he's applied the same lens to his experience of growing up a Syrian Jew in Brooklyn, across the country to a briefly dreadlocked period in L.A. then to Iowa for porn and pancakes and back again for a disorienting stint at Juilliard. Deftly woven, this story is so hilarious and poignant, rife with depictions of his hopelessly lovable family and friends, you could almost find yourself se David Admji is already known for the flawed, complex, extreme characters he brings to life on the stage, and now he's applied the same lens to his experience of growing up a Syrian Jew in Brooklyn, across the country to a briefly dreadlocked period in L.A. then to Iowa for porn and pancakes and back again for a disorienting stint at Juilliard. Deftly woven, this story is so hilarious and poignant, rife with depictions of his hopelessly lovable family and friends, you could almost find yourself seduced away from the deeper underlying complexities at hand. Adjmi is as merciless on himself as he is on others, taking a diamond-hard approach to scrutinizing his own alienation, search for identity, sexuality, and the ways in which he chameleoned his way through life until he landed in some version of honest acceptance and personal wisdom. Harder-hitting than David Sedaris but equally funny and anecdotally rich, less poetic than Ocean Vuong but just as artistically imagined, Lot Six is part memoir, part inspiration for any serious artist or anyone with a desire to deconstruct the past. With plenty of teeth, this story is ultimately relentless in its pursuit of the ugly (yet somehow deeply charming?) truth. Perhaps the greatest gift Adjmi leaves his reader with, aside from a maniacal desire to turn the page, is a new level of the knowledge that in spite of what is distasteful about the human condition, there is beauty to be found everywhere, no matter how absurd the person or situation, but most especially within the nooks and crannies of the artist's own alienated and lonely heart.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Michael Zalta

    Just as galactic and atmospheric as his mesmerizing body of work as a playwright, Adjmi’s memoir grips you in and pierces through the all too familiar pains of living on the margins of a provincialized world. With “Lot Six”, Adjmi shatters the stylized aesthetics of his theatrical work to expose an emotionally-rich self-portrait pieced together from a range of dark memories, inspired esoterica, and fantasies of what it means to be ‘cultured.’ What emerges however is no pastiche- wholly original Just as galactic and atmospheric as his mesmerizing body of work as a playwright, Adjmi’s memoir grips you in and pierces through the all too familiar pains of living on the margins of a provincialized world. With “Lot Six”, Adjmi shatters the stylized aesthetics of his theatrical work to expose an emotionally-rich self-portrait pieced together from a range of dark memories, inspired esoterica, and fantasies of what it means to be ‘cultured.’ What emerges however is no pastiche- wholly original and deeply earnest, “Lost Six” is a powerful rumination on storytelling and the stories we refigure to keep ourselves alive. As a fellow ‘lot 6’ from the Syrian Jewish community this was a truly powerful read. His Promethean tale of self-re-fashioning read like tattered love-letter to a place that cannot be erased from your core. More than a memoir, “Lot Six” is like an auto-ethnography charting the nascence of a queer diaspora. Adjmi excavates that thin yet painful line we all try to walk that divides our homes from our dreams.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Tolan-Mee

    This is a stunning memoir that follows a brilliant, eccentric, sensitive, keenly observant, daring, hilarious Adjmi on his journey of self revelation. It is the portrait of how someone becomes a person and an artist. What culture are we born into and does that have anything to do with who we are? What do we appropriate in order to fashion our true selves? What is a person anyway? Adjmi writes about the search for identity through his engagement with the odd assemblage of characters that populate This is a stunning memoir that follows a brilliant, eccentric, sensitive, keenly observant, daring, hilarious Adjmi on his journey of self revelation. It is the portrait of how someone becomes a person and an artist. What culture are we born into and does that have anything to do with who we are? What do we appropriate in order to fashion our true selves? What is a person anyway? Adjmi writes about the search for identity through his engagement with the odd assemblage of characters that populate his life, through his close reading of literature and philosophy, through ecstatic friendships and diner waffles, through a series of odd jobs, through intense resonances with pop icons, through a succession of questionable hairdos and fashion statements. He writes about what he had to give up and what he had to build in order to survive. Reading LOT 6 feels like an extremely intimate slumber party with a friend who you want to grow up to BE. This is a shockingly raw, generous, huge-hearted memoir, as well as an incredibly incisive piece of critical theory. Adjmi is a genius.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brett Benner

    Identity, creativity, sexuality, and repeat! “I swore to never become a Lot Six. I had learned the origin for that term from my brothers. It came from SY (Syrian) businesses. Lot numbers were the numbers affixed with little stickers to the backs of cameras and Walkmans-they gave a salesmen a coded system, a quick way to negotiate prices with the customers. Lot numbers were double the wholesale price, so Lot Six was code for three, an odd number-odd, as in queer. It wasn’t just an epithet for a g Identity, creativity, sexuality, and repeat! “I swore to never become a Lot Six. I had learned the origin for that term from my brothers. It came from SY (Syrian) businesses. Lot numbers were the numbers affixed with little stickers to the backs of cameras and Walkmans-they gave a salesmen a coded system, a quick way to negotiate prices with the customers. Lot numbers were double the wholesale price, so Lot Six was code for three, an odd number-odd, as in queer. It wasn’t just an epithet for a gay person-it was a price tag, a declaration of value. And a Lot Six had no value. The identity, if I ever claimed it, would render me worthless.” Wow did I love this book. Of course not every book can hit you on such a multitude of levels in terms of identifying, but man this sure did for me. David Adjmi was named one of the top ten in Culture by The New Yorker in 2011. A celebrated playwright David’s had his work produced at Lincoln Center, the Royal Shakespeare Company, Soho Rep, and Steppenwolf to name a few. But how does one get from here to there? How does a Brooklyn born Syrian Jew with a domineering Mother and vacant Father break the limiting carapace around him to eventually find his voice, his vocation, and his place in this world? This is is his story. So much of his early childhood I found myself laughing out loud, from his early cultural excursions with his mother to Manhattan for theatre ( His simultaneous terror and fascination with ‘Sweeney Todd’ is priceless), to his aversion to the glut of horror films released in the seventies.- Which in some way more than likely contributed to his certainty of being murdered some night in his home when his mother went out! His foray into puberty made me choke with recognition, one specific instance finally pinpointing a physical change I never knew until now was because of that. Moving on. As young David matures into a man, so does his story mature as well as he begins to try on a wardrobe of identities looking for the one that fits the best both through high school and then college. At the same time his creative spirit was burgeoning, and it’s that section that frames the final moving third of the book. I’m so happy to have read this, it surely is one of the best of the year for me, and hoping beyond hope Broadway reopens this winter so his new play which is Broadway bound can further solidify his boundless talent.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cori Thomas

    This book is brilliant. It is one of those I will re-visit for sure. I finished and knew right away that I will read it again. The writing is majestic and the story it tells is immediate and gripping and moving. An American memoir we have not seen as yet. I can not recommend it highly enough. Gorgeous!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mitzi Yao

    Wow! I was transported back in time. This book took me back to the streets and to my adolescence in New York. David Adjmi has an incredible memory for beautifully reviving NY scents and scenes from the 80's and 90's pop, fashion, and art culture through words as we travel on his path to self discovery and success. It’s a beautifully orchestrated memoir and it sings in a language that makes you weep, laugh, cringe, commiserate with him, and most of all, root for him as he questions his place with Wow! I was transported back in time. This book took me back to the streets and to my adolescence in New York. David Adjmi has an incredible memory for beautifully reviving NY scents and scenes from the 80's and 90's pop, fashion, and art culture through words as we travel on his path to self discovery and success. It’s a beautifully orchestrated memoir and it sings in a language that makes you weep, laugh, cringe, commiserate with him, and most of all, root for him as he questions his place within the Syrian Jewish community in Brooklyn. His story evokes subconscious feelings from personal passages and you can certainly find a piece of yourself through his writing. I could reread this over and over and find myself beside him. I believe there is a Lot Six in all of us.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tory Stewart

    This book is so smart, poignant and funny. It's a memoir of David Adjmi, one of my favorite playwrights, all about his childhood in Brooklyn and his journey as an artist. There are so many amazing stories - they are hard-edged and melancholic - especially the ones concerning his difficult relationship with his father.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Duncan Riddell

    I couldn't put LOT SIX down. David Adjmi's memoir evokes the power of art -- how it molds, betrays and restores us -- in ways few books have. In every paragraph there's a knockout insight or breathtaking sentence. Brilliant, hilarious, heartbreaking, wise, and always, always thrillingly alive.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    So smart and funny and entertaining and moving. Fans of Nietzsche and Falcon Crest will love it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Nipkow

    David Adjmi's Lot Six is a stunning, virtuosic memoir -- a coming of age story that acknowledge the fact that to come of age is the work of a lifetime. Adjmi first brings us into the insular world of his childhood in Brooklyn's Syrian-Jewish community, "the Community" as its members say. Adjmi's characters -- the family that belies the SY definition of FAMILY, and the childhood friends who are both lifelines and obsessions -- never speak their truths, and it is Adjmi's great gift to be able to c David Adjmi's Lot Six is a stunning, virtuosic memoir -- a coming of age story that acknowledge the fact that to come of age is the work of a lifetime. Adjmi first brings us into the insular world of his childhood in Brooklyn's Syrian-Jewish community, "the Community" as its members say. Adjmi's characters -- the family that belies the SY definition of FAMILY, and the childhood friends who are both lifelines and obsessions -- never speak their truths, and it is Adjmi's great gift to be able to convey the emptiness and confusion of living in a society like that. Childhood was an act of survival for the author as it was for many of us, in our own familial petri dishes. And in the manner of all great writers, the honesty and detail in David Adjmi's writing strikes at the heart of anyone who has grown up unseen and unwanted as themselves. Later in the book, Adjmi, now a playwright, is awarded a slot in Juilliard's prestigious playwriting program, which becomes another act of survival as he finds himself the target of shame and bullying by one of the program's playwright-leaders. That he made it, and dug deep to share his experience with his readers with such raw defiance and with the vocabulary of an Oxford dean, is a gift and a message: Don't let yourself be silenced. The world needs your voice, David Adjmi. L'chaim.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mindy

    I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are my own. This was an unexpectedly gorgeous read. Dense, unique, and written from a deeply specific point of view. This is not your average memoir. It asks big questions about identity and fate and overcoming trauma. It is steeped in pain but also really sly delicious humor. It’s a cliche to say something is laugh out loud funny and also devastating, but in this case it’s true. And he can write. The prose is like if I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are my own. This was an unexpectedly gorgeous read. Dense, unique, and written from a deeply specific point of view. This is not your average memoir. It asks big questions about identity and fate and overcoming trauma. It is steeped in pain but also really sly delicious humor. It’s a cliche to say something is laugh out loud funny and also devastating, but in this case it’s true. And he can write. The prose is like if David Sedaris met Nabokov plus some Salinger stresses—and a whole Syrian Jewish overlay added to all that. The point being, it's all very mesmerizing and easy to read, I would probably read recipes by this author (and I dislike reading recipes.) Adjmi—who is known as a playwright, not a memoirist—is writing about the thin line between creating himself and creating his art. The strange and delicious series of turns in the book that get us from point A to point B are what make this worthwhile reading. He structures his book like a classic bildungsroman. The first part deals with his childhood, and his excruciating feeling of displacement. We spend a lot of time with his family (think Augusten Burroughs dysfunction but with Syrian Jews), and with Rabbis and Dentyne chewing teachers of his Jewish yeshiva (which is written as a kind of surrealist, hilarious black comedy) and inside the codependent friendship with his childhood best friend-- a brilliant pathological liar. The writing (particularly the section on puberty) is scathing, laser specific and frequently hilarious here. The second part is an hysterical (in both senses of the word) series of attempts for Adjmi to rebuild himself after cutting ties with his insular Syrian community. He moves from school to school, trying on very extreme identities, and the results are both very funny and very upsetting. This is where the book really starts to deepen and ask tough questions. Some of the writing here is just exceptional, very intimately and delicately crafted. The last two sections are about how he overcomes his issues with self esteem to forge a life as a writer. It sounds simple, but there’s a real weight to the writing, a real intelligence underlying all the sharp observations and humorous anecdotes. Adjmi writes so powerfully about so many things: the feeling of being an exile on your own family, the loneliness of childhood, the terror that you will never escape your blighted past, that you will never be able to create anything meaningful from your life. There is so much tenderness and complexity and empathy in the writing, and the ending is completely heartbreaking. There were a couple of sections that dragged a little bit, and I would have like to have known more about the author’s romantic relationships and more specifically about how he came to terms with being a gay man, which is kind of sideswiped—but these are minor quibbles. I loved the voice in this book. I loved reading about the SY community, which is so rich and interesting. It reminded me of reading Ferrante, the hook and interest of that backdrop and the pull to be in that community even as you are not in that community. And the turn at the end is so satisfying when everything comes full circle (I don’t want to give it away, but the end gave me chills). An absolutely spectacular read overall, one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. I loved it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jeannine Jones

    I love how Adjmi seamlessly weaves the plots of films and musicals into his own personal narrative.  The plots from works of art resonate so deeply with him and his own human experience that they become a part of his personal arc. HIs descriptions of growing up in New York City in the 80's and 90's are gritty and true. A real strength of this memoir is Adjmi's adept writing of the inner life of children. His stellar prose stabs the reader with the emotional turmoil of childhood.  It's deft and c I love how Adjmi seamlessly weaves the plots of films and musicals into his own personal narrative.  The plots from works of art resonate so deeply with him and his own human experience that they become a part of his personal arc. HIs descriptions of growing up in New York City in the 80's and 90's are gritty and true. A real strength of this memoir is Adjmi's adept writing of the inner life of children. His stellar prose stabs the reader with the emotional turmoil of childhood.  It's deft and cuts like a knife. His description of his childhood best friend, Howie stayed with me."He laughed easily and copiously, and it was contagious. The laughter felt explosive and secret, a barely capped hysteria. I sensed the laughter belied more primitive forces, that is opened into giant amphitheaters of rage and despair, but I was too wrapped up and delirium to care." The story of Audrey Levy showed how his navigation of his childhood was an endless loop of being hurt - and in that instance when he finally fought back against his tormenter, he saw in a brilliant flash that she was the a tormented as himself.  It's a theme that resonates throughout the memoir - the pain that people hide in different ways, and the revelations you come to when you see into thier hearts.  It is a wonderful read with many, many layers to unpack.  

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sheila

    Gorgeous read, beautiful memoir! Adjmi is a sensitive, clever, observant writer with an exceptional eye for detail. He structures his harrowing yet romantic coming-of-age tale around his struggle to understand his place as a gay man in his homophobic Syrian Jewish community in Brooklyn. Luckily, he discovers a twisted yet rewarding panacea in the theater. The memoir is not only a coming out story, but also a love letter to his complicated relationships with his mother, his best friend, his close Gorgeous read, beautiful memoir! Adjmi is a sensitive, clever, observant writer with an exceptional eye for detail. He structures his harrowing yet romantic coming-of-age tale around his struggle to understand his place as a gay man in his homophobic Syrian Jewish community in Brooklyn. Luckily, he discovers a twisted yet rewarding panacea in the theater. The memoir is not only a coming out story, but also a love letter to his complicated relationships with his mother, his best friend, his closeted lover, and his punishing mentor. Adjmi’s writing is at times soulful, decorous, and painfully raw. He neatly avoids the self-indulgent tropes which typify the genre, providing instead a generous, empathetic, truthful, and inspiring snapshot of a soon-to-be-legendary theater writer in the throes of his troubled youth. His authorial voice criticizes without moralizing, and there is much poetic purity to his investigation. I loved this book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ginny

    Lot 6 is a moving and often hilarious memoir by the talented playwright David Adjmi. His portrayals of the Syrian Jewish community in Brooklyn, where he grew up, are moving and hilarious—because they’re never cruel and because he’s most funny about himself. (I was laughing out loud throughout the book.) He makes a solid case for the importance of art, showing how it can help people overcome difficult childhoods, and provide community and meaning for those who do not find acceptance in their fami Lot 6 is a moving and often hilarious memoir by the talented playwright David Adjmi. His portrayals of the Syrian Jewish community in Brooklyn, where he grew up, are moving and hilarious—because they’re never cruel and because he’s most funny about himself. (I was laughing out loud throughout the book.) He makes a solid case for the importance of art, showing how it can help people overcome difficult childhoods, and provide community and meaning for those who do not find acceptance in their families of origin. It’s satisfying to see how Adjmi comes to terms with his history, and how he then transmits his experiences to others through art. The cultural criticism woven through allowed me to consider certain works of art in new ways, and showed how artists are shaped by their cultural experiences, beginning at an early age. And did I mention that it’s funny?

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kyra Bloom

    David Adjmi's Lot Six is a deeply affecting memoir of the author's upbringing and departure from the Syrian Jewish community in Brooklyn. Adjmi imbues every character from his past with so much life. What is remarkable about Adjmi's writing is not only his understanding of his own challenges and flaws, but his insight into those of the people around him. His vocabulary is expansive, and while I always enjoy an opportunity to familiarize myself with a new word, some readers may be frustrated with David Adjmi's Lot Six is a deeply affecting memoir of the author's upbringing and departure from the Syrian Jewish community in Brooklyn. Adjmi imbues every character from his past with so much life. What is remarkable about Adjmi's writing is not only his understanding of his own challenges and flaws, but his insight into those of the people around him. His vocabulary is expansive, and while I always enjoy an opportunity to familiarize myself with a new word, some readers may be frustrated with his elevated word usage. I would have enjoyed reading more about his experiences post-Juilliard and up to the present, but I suppose his earlier journey is what makes his story most unique. Adjmi's writing is transportive, and I hope a wide variety of readers, especially outside of the theatre world, are as entranced by his story as I was.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Larry Kunofsky

    I first became a devotee of David Ajdmi's writing through his play, 3C, which takes themes and characters from THREE'S COMPANY and turns it into something wholly new, fresh, exciting, and deeply disturbing. The main character in that play, as with the main character in the TV show, lives in swinging-seventies California in an apartment with two young women. But unlike in the show, where the guy pretends to be gay so that the landlord won't suspect any hanky-panky, our hero actually is gay, prete I first became a devotee of David Ajdmi's writing through his play, 3C, which takes themes and characters from THREE'S COMPANY and turns it into something wholly new, fresh, exciting, and deeply disturbing. The main character in that play, as with the main character in the TV show, lives in swinging-seventies California in an apartment with two young women. But unlike in the show, where the guy pretends to be gay so that the landlord won't suspect any hanky-panky, our hero actually is gay, pretending to be a guy who's not gay, pretending to be gay, and this unlocks all the terror and confusion and unease that was bleeding out of the edges of the show-of the whole zeitgeist of the seventies, actually-until we find ourselves not only relating to someone in deep pain for having to hide who he is, but more importantly, we also become more connected to our own pain. Somehow, through this masterpiece of a play that seemed on the surface (at least for the first five minutes/pages or so) to be just a fun pastiche, we see how we have all been wounded, and we have all done our fair share of wounding, when it comes to identity, to shaping our own, and shaping that of those around us. It's a story about how very nearly deadly it is to become who we are and I will never forget it and I will always be in David Adjmi's debt for helping me to see my own humanity through it. LOT SIX: A MEMOIR is filled with such pleasures and perils throughout. It is a very different story, of course, since this is the playwright's life story, rather than a dramatic or fictionalized projection of something personal. This is so personal, and so unvarnished a depiction of the personal, that it's actually quite raw, and yet it is just as pleasurable as it is intense. This is a funny, brave, poignant, rough-and-tender story of a young person making his own way in a world where the expected path was all too clear, and the desired path was perilous, almost beyond measure. Adjmi is a writer who seems to have pop culture coursing through his veins. He seems to know about everything that happened on stage and screen and on the airwaves in the seventies and eighties, and yet it is never merely background setting or soundtrack to his story, it somehow IS his story, and this forces us to connect with OUR story. As we read about how SWEENY TODD mattered to young David, we are connected to what mattered to us when we were kids, and how what mattered to us made us us. But LOT SIX isn't just about pop culture. We learn about a rare little enclave of Syrian Jews, mostly in the greater New York area, in which David Adjmi grew up, became alienated by, but ultimately learns to accept. A loving and... frankly, crazy... and also often brutal family is depicted so vividly that we feel like we've known them our whole lives. As with 3C, the kitsch, the melodrama, the grand sweeping gestures of pop culture, suggest something true and deep and meaningful in the yearnings of our own, deceptively small and simple lives. And as with that play, this memoir depicts the wounds inflicted upon us and the wounds that we, ourselves, inflict, upon the ones we love as we learn who we are and begin to understand who those we love have been on their own path. This memoir is a passionate love embrace to a period of time, to a family, to all different kinds of ways of life involving art and culture and religion and sex and sexuality and differences within differences within differences within differences. It's a paean to difference and it's a different kind of book than any you've read before. I'm honored to have read it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This is my first time reading a memoir by a friend. It’s my first time reading a description of a childhood home and having the kind of double experience of the words in front of my eyes, alongside my memories of the place. I’ve been to that pizza place! He took me there! I remember that phase of his life he’s talking about! There’s also the fascinating counter narrative I have running while reading what’s on the page. There are the stories I remember from some of those times and they are layere This is my first time reading a memoir by a friend. It’s my first time reading a description of a childhood home and having the kind of double experience of the words in front of my eyes, alongside my memories of the place. I’ve been to that pizza place! He took me there! I remember that phase of his life he’s talking about! There’s also the fascinating counter narrative I have running while reading what’s on the page. There are the stories I remember from some of those times and they are layered on top the stories in the text, most of which I knew nothing about even as they were happening nearby. I don’t have any idea what it would be like to read this book without previous knowledge of its author. I imagine it might make someone cry a few times, as it did me – as those moments were pure craft and nothing personal. (Although, of course, very personal to the subject of the book who, even if you don’t know him, you will likely come to care for.) The book is artfully crafted – something I admired more than I might in the work of someone whose life I hadn’t seen some of the raw material of. If you know the fabric a bit, it’s all the more impressive to see it transformed into a suit. I spent half of the book exclaiming, “This explains so much” and the other half exclaiming, “I had no idea.” At the center of the book, there’s a search for a kind of consistency of self, which I found fascinating. I was struck by the moment when he describes how his teacher in grad school asks him to define what would be “Adjmi-esque,” as it’s somehow unclear to this teacher. This surprised me because I feel like I know what’s Adjmi-esque and I’ve known from my first encounter with his work 26 years ago. To my eye, his aesthetic has always been unique and crystal clear. It’s mercurial, certainly, and can slip into many different containers easily, but the essence of it has been incredibly consistent. I suppose this search for a thing that he’s always had is true for a lot of us artists. His aesthetic is quick, sharp, deeply felt, funny, grotesque and heartstruck at the cruelties of the world. This book is all those things, too. I hear his voice as I read it. I suspect even someone who’s never met him will recognize it by the time they’re done reading. It is that well done – that consistent – that clear.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jay Lesiger

    I have finished this book, and have read all the online reviews, and must admit that I am a bit mystified by the overwhelming critical acclaim. Mr. Adjmi is undoubtedly talented (I have not seen any of his plays) as a writer, but his constant whining really got the better of me. And his "transliteration" of the way the Syrian Jews in Brooklyn actually spoke, rather than simply explaining it once or twice, became really tiresome, right up to the end of the book. A "lot six" is the Syrian slang fo I have finished this book, and have read all the online reviews, and must admit that I am a bit mystified by the overwhelming critical acclaim. Mr. Adjmi is undoubtedly talented (I have not seen any of his plays) as a writer, but his constant whining really got the better of me. And his "transliteration" of the way the Syrian Jews in Brooklyn actually spoke, rather than simply explaining it once or twice, became really tiresome, right up to the end of the book. A "lot six" is the Syrian slang for a homosexual, but I confess there is very little of Adjmi's sexuality in this book, neither pro nor con. As he went through his teens, twenties and thirties, I expected there to be some trace of sexuality in this "tell-all" memoir, but it seems to be so totally buried, that he omits this clearly troubling aspect of his life almost totally. He also moves through his "obsessions" rather quickly, with no real insight into what's really going on inside him. He hates his parents, then he doesn't; hates his siblings, then not. And for this reader, the Nietzchean discussions were confusing and of little dramatic interest. And his final acceptance of "the way things are" seemed terribly pat after so much internal sturm und drang. While I realize that this is a memor and not a novel, my expectations of a more involving story were seldom realized.

  23. 5 out of 5

    willowdog

    I can't remember reading an autobiography were the main character has so few redeeming characteristics. Adjmi is brutally honest in his portrayal of his life. As a Syrian Ashkenazi Jew growing up in New York, he documents his relationships with his family, friends, his studies, and his therapy in his attempt at understanding his life. All of which prove to be going down a "bunch of blind alleys" in this pursuit. I kept wanting to be sympathetic to him, but found his portrayal off putting. I know I can't remember reading an autobiography were the main character has so few redeeming characteristics. Adjmi is brutally honest in his portrayal of his life. As a Syrian Ashkenazi Jew growing up in New York, he documents his relationships with his family, friends, his studies, and his therapy in his attempt at understanding his life. All of which prove to be going down a "bunch of blind alleys" in this pursuit. I kept wanting to be sympathetic to him, but found his portrayal off putting. I know I could be looking at this as sarcastic and funny. And it is that. But, can he be that pompous, that naive Gen X man who is given so much, yet can't recognize what has been given him? The narrative gets stale after he relates items that affected his life and then gives an in-depth explanation of the item. Be prepared to use your google dictionary (he refers to using the Barron Vocabulary Builder not in a good way) and throws in obtuse words which stop one in one's tracks. Can I say ostentatious, supercilious, vainglorious? Thats to Edelweiss and the publisher for providing me this electronic copy.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    Easily one of the most entertaining and satisfying coming of age memoirs I've ever read. About five minutes into the book I was howling with laughter at his first Broadway outing "Sweeny Todd," a show neither the author (the brilliant David Adjmi) or his mother are the least bit prepared for. David thought it was going to be a fun play about a blonde lady who makes pies. Both he and his mother leave the theatre in silence, completely horrified by the nightmarish brilliance they have just witness Easily one of the most entertaining and satisfying coming of age memoirs I've ever read. About five minutes into the book I was howling with laughter at his first Broadway outing "Sweeny Todd," a show neither the author (the brilliant David Adjmi) or his mother are the least bit prepared for. David thought it was going to be a fun play about a blonde lady who makes pies. Both he and his mother leave the theatre in silence, completely horrified by the nightmarish brilliance they have just witnessed. Hysterical! He then launches himself into late 80's New York City with great references to a world I had forgotten, that sublime period of self-discovery we often refer to as youth. As he grows, we grow, as he aches, we ache, as he succeeds and finds his way, so do we. I must confess I'm still reading (and rereading) certain passages, for their poetic beauty? Sure. However, more often? I'm emitting gales of laughter, so desperately needed during our current age, that of the Pandemic. It's a howler throughout and heartbreakingly sensitive, too. Enjoy!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    I've avoided writing this review, despite not being able to stop thinking about Lot Six. I've avoided it purely because I wanted my words to measure up to the intricate, aching, hilarious, illuminating beauty of the book itself. Thankfully, however, it's not about me... and the world will be better off with another voice proclaiming the brilliance of this book. Whether you consider yourself to be a fan of memoirs or not, whether you have any personal connection to the Syrian Jewish community in I've avoided writing this review, despite not being able to stop thinking about Lot Six. I've avoided it purely because I wanted my words to measure up to the intricate, aching, hilarious, illuminating beauty of the book itself. Thankfully, however, it's not about me... and the world will be better off with another voice proclaiming the brilliance of this book. Whether you consider yourself to be a fan of memoirs or not, whether you have any personal connection to the Syrian Jewish community in Brooklyn, regardless of when or where or how you grew up, if you are a person who grew up feeling "different" -- if you grew against the grain but yearned to connect -- this will book will ring so true that you will vibrate.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Hilary

    Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. The story transports you to very specific places in time and location. I really felt like I was living in each part with it. His family is often despicable but I still wanted to be a part of it, so painful and hilarious and loving and brutal. Fascinating. I felt like I was sitting in the living room watching it all happen. The story takes some really harrowing turns but the story telling helped me digest it. Usually when I read a book that covers diff Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. The story transports you to very specific places in time and location. I really felt like I was living in each part with it. His family is often despicable but I still wanted to be a part of it, so painful and hilarious and loving and brutal. Fascinating. I felt like I was sitting in the living room watching it all happen. The story takes some really harrowing turns but the story telling helped me digest it. Usually when I read a book that covers difficult topics and accounts of suffering, I'll need to take a break and walk away from it but this book was a delicious escape. I especially enjoyed the Manhattan of the late 80s. What a time to be alive.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rob Urbinati

    I have admired David Adjmi’s plays, but they did not prepare me for the scope and achievement of LOT SIX. Written in effortlessly elegant prose, this raw and passionate account of Adjmi’s life as the son of an imploding Syrian Jewish family in New York City “unfolds as if it were an ancient scroll.” It’s an honest, amusing, and fearless self-portrait of an outsider who finds himself through art. Adjmi’s experiences are distinct, yet for anyone in the arts, his story accesses a shared experience. I have admired David Adjmi’s plays, but they did not prepare me for the scope and achievement of LOT SIX. Written in effortlessly elegant prose, this raw and passionate account of Adjmi’s life as the son of an imploding Syrian Jewish family in New York City “unfolds as if it were an ancient scroll.” It’s an honest, amusing, and fearless self-portrait of an outsider who finds himself through art. Adjmi’s experiences are distinct, yet for anyone in the arts, his story accesses a shared experience. He’s greedy for culture - both high and low - which shapes his identity and becomes his salvation. The book has as rich a cast of characters as any great work of literature, observed with a playwright’s keen eye. LOT SIX is a sly, wrenching and poignant memoir.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Eufe

    Adjmi’s memoir, a study in self-discovery, elicited a great deal of nostalgia for me, as I too spent a great deal of my high school years figuring out who I was in the incomparable NYC of the mid-80s.  His infatuation with Broadway shows from an early age rang so true I almost wondered if he’d plagiarized some of my own memories.  A bit dense in content (almost 400 pages), Adjmi’s journey is delivered unapologetically as he dissects and often condemns the Syrian-Jewish traditions and family root Adjmi’s memoir, a study in self-discovery, elicited a great deal of nostalgia for me, as I too spent a great deal of my high school years figuring out who I was in the incomparable NYC of the mid-80s.  His infatuation with Broadway shows from an early age rang so true I almost wondered if he’d plagiarized some of my own memories.  A bit dense in content (almost 400 pages), Adjmi’s journey is delivered unapologetically as he dissects and often condemns the Syrian-Jewish traditions and family roots that shaped him while growing up in Brooklyn.  ‘Finding oneself’ is the expected trope of most memoirs - nothing new here - but Adjmi’s strength lies in his ability to bring all of his supporting characters to life with impeccable grace and depth... even when eviscerating them.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    A truly stunning memoir full of vivid characters, larger-than-life scenarios and told from a raw, honest and deeply insightful point of view. I was enraptured by every minute of it; I laughed, I cried, I mourned for and celebrated the characters. Like his plays and like life itself, its tone effortlessly shifts from joyful to tragic and hits all the colors in between. Adjmi portrays a life so visceral, so specific, but Lot Six captures something so universal - a real journey of an artist and why A truly stunning memoir full of vivid characters, larger-than-life scenarios and told from a raw, honest and deeply insightful point of view. I was enraptured by every minute of it; I laughed, I cried, I mourned for and celebrated the characters. Like his plays and like life itself, its tone effortlessly shifts from joyful to tragic and hits all the colors in between. Adjmi portrays a life so visceral, so specific, but Lot Six captures something so universal - a real journey of an artist and why it matters to create at all. I didn't want it to end, but I put it down inspired and have not stopped thinking about it since.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Abbyturnsthepage

    Thank you to Netgalley, HarperCollins Publishers, and David Adjmi for an advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review. Lot Six hooked me immediately; I needed to know who this man was. I loved how Adjmi's story was so unapologetic and raw; as he recounted his childhood into becoming a man, I saw his many changes and ultimate transformation happen like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. Navigating religion, sexual orientation, and identity itself is a relatable trope. Adjmi's delive Thank you to Netgalley, HarperCollins Publishers, and David Adjmi for an advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review. Lot Six hooked me immediately; I needed to know who this man was. I loved how Adjmi's story was so unapologetic and raw; as he recounted his childhood into becoming a man, I saw his many changes and ultimate transformation happen like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. Navigating religion, sexual orientation, and identity itself is a relatable trope. Adjmi's delivery in Lot Six shows that the whole journey of finding oneself in a world that seems to shun you away will always bring out the true beauty and shine of you. A magnificent read overall.

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