18 Best Books to Read This Month
Gurwitch's Jewish Alabamian father occupies as much space in the book as in life, whether he's hatching a doomed plan for a puppet theme park or bailing on Gurwitch's NYU tuition after falling victim to an FBI sting operation involving a sheikh, a yacht, and congressional bribes a.k.a. Abscam. Fortuitously, being raised by a hustler prepared Gurwitch for a life of acting and selling, whether as a bit player in TV movies, a reincarnation cult, or a pyramid scheme pushing skincare products.
But the memoir's madcap joy is the entire Gurwitch clan of scenery chewers, which extends beyond the patriarch. With her moonshine-smuggling forebears and her brothel matron great-grandmother, Gurwitch joins the shell-shocked ranks of dysfunctional-family chroniclers Augusten Burroughs and Sean Wilsey. While those authors faced real or threatened legal action by the subjects of their books, in the end Gurwitch lucked out in having a huckster for a father. When she asked if it was okay to write about him, he quickly answered, "If you think there's money in it, go for it."