Book Festival Chair Recommendations

Thursday, October 31, 2019
Posted by: John Dreyfus, Chair of the Ann and Stephen Kaufman Jewish Book & Arts Festival

Giraffes on Horseback SaladAs the Chair of the 47th Annual Ann and Stephen Kaufman Book and Arts Festival, I am often astonished when people ask me, “what programs I recommend.” Obviously, these people didn't join me when I opened the 12th annual Jewish Film Festival with The Man in the Wall. Indelibly etched in my memory were the dismayed and shocked faces of the audience as they witnessed this spectacle. My tastes may be a little different than yours.

Nonetheless, I am going to share with you a couple programs I am most excited about. If you know me well, you know that I am a devotee of the Marx Brothers and have been for more than 50 years.

Why the Marx Brothers? Well, number #1, they are hilarious. Even though their films were made in the 1930s and 1940s, the comedy still holds up. How can you not enjoy Groucho raging at authority, Chico bungling the English language and Harpo being just Harpo?

Horse FeathersI have found a kindred spirit in Josh Frank. When Josh grew up in Houston, he saw his first Marx Brothers film at the J. Josh discovered a script and novel created by Salvador Dali for Harpo for a potential film project named Giraffes with Horseback Salad. Josh brought the film to life with this colorful graphic novel.

After Josh presents his book, Horsefeathers, the Marx Brothers 1932 classic, will be presented. If you are a Marx Brothers fan, I will see you there. If you have never seen the Marx Brothers and want to laugh, I will see you there. I hope someone will bring a kid who will discover them just like Josh and I did when we were kids.

Maybe You Should Talk to SomeoneMy favorite book this year has been Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. I am elated Lori Gottlieb will be a presenter at the Fest (and I am leading the Q&A). Lori had a fascinating career; initially working for NBC-TV, then going to med school before becoming a therapist.

The book includes glimpses into therapy sessions with her patients and her own therapist, Wendell (a memorable character in his own right). I was taken by Gottlieb’s wisdom and sense of humor.

Another program I am excited about is Elyssa Friedland’s book The Floating Feldmans at the Merfish Monday night, November 11. This light comedy is the story of a family cruise that dredges a boatload of trouble. We are going to have a lot of fun with this event. If you like Piña Coladas….come to the Merfish. We invite you to wear your most outlandish cruise wear. Elyssa will choose the best cruise wear winners and award them prizes. I can’t wait to get on board.

If you want me to give you recommendations, ask me anytime. I am just hanging out, waiting for the Man in the Wall Part 2 to come out.

Check out the complete lineup at


Category: Arts and Culture