I Love Gootie

photo of author and his grandmother

Max Apple


Grand Central

“Heartwarming is an overused adjective, but in the case of Apple’s new memoir, it is entirely appropriate. In Roommates (Warner, 1994), Apple wrote movingly about his grandfather Rocky, a Polish immigrant. Here, Apple remembers his grandmother Gootie, Rocky’s wife. Born in a Lithuanian shtetl, Gootie comes to the U.S. following World War I. There are some wonderful set pieces here: Gootie buying Max a bicycle; Gootie watching “I Love Lucy”; Gootie’s comments after Max tells her about Anna Karenina and Emma Bovary (‘It's the same thing over and over. Don’t you have any books about women who aren’t whores?’); and Gootie’s comments the first time she sees an escalator (‘This kind of thing is no good for Jews.’). Although there is less of a narrative thread here than there was in Roommates, Gootie’s character carries the story along. Apple’s loving portrait of his grandmother gives us not only an example of a close relationship between a grandmother and a grandson but also a vision of small-town Jewish American life in the middle years of the century.” — Nancy Pearl, Booklist