By the author of Attempting Normal and host of the podcast WTF with Marc Maron, The Jerusalem Syndrome is The Gospel according to Maron: a spiritual memoir of your average hyperintelligent, ultraneurotic, superhip Jewish standup comedian and seeker.
The Jerusalem Syndrome is a genuine psychological phenomenon that often strikes visitors to the Holy Land_the delusion that they are suddenly direct vessels for the voice of God. Marc Maron seems to have a distinctly American version of the Jerusalem Syndrome, which has led him on a lifelong quest for religious significance and revelation in the most unlikely of places.
Maron riffs on Beat phenomena with its sacred texts, established rituals, and prescribed pilgrimages. He spends some time exploring the dark side of things, as his obsessions with cocaine (known to Maron as “magic powder”), conspiracy theories, and famous self-destructive comedians convince him that the gates of hell open beneath Los Angeles. As his quest matures, he reveals the religious aspects of Corporate America, pontificating on the timeless beauty of the Coca-Cola logo and even taking a trip to the Philip Morris cigarette factory, where the workers puff their own products with a zealot-like fervor. The culmination of Maron’s Jerusalem Syndrome comes during his own tour of the Holy Land, where, with Sony camcorder glued to his eye socket, he comes face-to-face with his own ambiguous relationship to Judaism and reaches the brink of spiritual revelation_or is it nervous breakdown?
Marc Maron has considerably adapted and expanded his praised one-man show to craft a genuine literary memoir. Whether he’s a genuine prophet or a neurotic mess, he’ll make you laugh as you question the meaning of life.
“Marc Maron is blazingly smart, rapid-fire, and very funny . . . A brilliant and relentless screed.” –David Rakoff, author of Fraud
“Marc Maron is the first crazy person I’ve ever envied. In his brainiac-memoir-meets-hilarious-travelogue, he demonstrates the ability to tell a story with an extraordinary provocative intelligence that is regrettably shared by few.” _ Janeane Garofolo, comedian
|Average Customer Review: ( 10 customer reviews )
Write an online review and share your thoughts with other customers.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 34 found the following review helpful:
Funny and sweet Nov 27, 2001
By Eileen Galen
In this fluid memoir Marc Maron manages to be self-aggrandizing and self-effacing at once, to good effect. He's got an eye and an ear for detail, and can comment wryly on marriage (for example) without ever being misogynistic. He writes that he was his Grandma Goldy's first and favorite grandchild - and that this designation and honor is sticking for life. You will laugh a lot, and admire Maron's ability to sometimes make lemonade out of lemons. In addition, Maron is more than willing to tell us about the silly, sad, and ridiculous jams he has gotten into - and how he found his way out. Maron is not only smart; he is kind and compassionate without ever being maudlin. This memoir, by an American comic with a deservedly bright future, is funny and sweet and well worth reading.
12 of 12 found the following review helpful:
If you use your heart, brains and guts every day, you may enjoy this. Dec 14, 2008
By Michael Barrows
But really, if you can't take a joke, if you can't sympathize with others, if you refuse to give yourself an honest appraisal on a regular basis, if you've never taken a chance on a wild idea or a romantic urge, if you've never charged ahead of the crowd or hung back when the crowd surged ahead, if you've never gone down a different path, just to see where it would lead, you will be totally unable to comprehend what Maron is saying.
And he leaves a lot unsaid, expecting his audience to make some of the connections, as is necessary for all comedy. It's just that his leaps of logic are a little further and faster than most. And you have to adopt his view point. This is going to be refreshingly open and giving to some, and intensely uncomfortable for others.
One of my fellow reviewers here seemed to like all but the school days chapters. I felt that the humor and depth of the book maintained a fairly even keel throughout. Several other reviews seemed like simple personals attacks. From their ad hominem nature, with no specific reference to the book's contents, but posted after Maron had been broadcasting for a while (in fact, during the period that he had the top-rated morning show on radio - & then got fired), I suspect the freepers creep among us.
Those who fear the unchained mind will dislike this kind of humor most. Maron brings the light into Plato's Cave and who there will thank him? However, if you are a nice person with an occasionally nasty disposition, due to the tension of eternally searching -- & you're a little afraid it's all for nought? You will enjoy this greatly.
I was pleased to find this book, since it gives a lot of personal background as well as plenty of the kind of introspective comedy at which Maron excels.
He also had some rather uncharacteristic points of nostalgia (appropriate to the autobiographical form) along with the vivisection-like social and personal analysis that makes his stage and radio personae so engaging.
I only gave it 4 stars because I wanted it to be longer. I've re-read it several times over the last few years.
22 of 29 found the following review helpful:
A few really good parts, anyway. Jun 20, 2003
I bought this because I think Marc Maron's standup comedy is hilarious. I caught a brief appearance of him on Comedy Central awhile ago and it took me several months to find out the name of the guy who made me laugh so hard. After finally finding out who he was, I found out he has a CD, Not Sold Out, and this book, The Jerusalem Syndrome. The CD is hilarious and I highly recommend it. Since no other CDs or a DVD of his standup is available (yet, anyway - fingers crossed!), I went ahead and got the book because he wrote it, not really knowing what it was about, with pretty high expectations.
The book is a fragmentary autobiography of some events in Maron's life, very little of which is directly related to his career as a standup comic.
The brief first chapter foreshadows the events that will occur later in the book during Maron's trip to Israel.
Chapters two through five cover Maron's life up to high school. I simply didn't find this stuff to be very interesting.
Chapter six covers Maron's college years, focusing on him adopting the Beat religion. The ideas and events in this chapter are very interesting, they're written about very well, and the chapter is very funny.
Chapter seven is another highlight of the book, covering the modest beginnings of his career as his comedian and his relationship (friendship is too strong of word) with Sam Kinison. Like the previous chapter the events here are interesting and funny, if not scary.
In chapter eight Maron recounts his foray into conspiracy theory, and how his credulity for that intellectual junk food led to him making a fool of himself. He does save some face, though, by turning his mind back on before the chapter is through. Maron does make a really good observation about conspiracy theory literature:
"The thing about conspiracy literature is that it's perfect for stupid people who want to seem smart and ground their hatred in something completely mystical and confusing, and it's good for smart people who are too lazy to do their homework. People can't argue with it without possibly implicating themselves."
What I don't get is, if this stuff really happened, how is it possible that he didn't learn from this and avoid the whole Jerusalem Syndrome thing, if that stuff really happened, too?
Chapter nine is hilarious, as Maron tells of his visits to a Philip Morris plant and the Coca-Cola museum. Maron gives great, detailed accounts of these visits and makes many humorous but true, if not obvious, observations.
Chapter ten provides a mish-mash of professional and personal experiences. I simply didn't think this stuff was very interesting or funny.
Chapters eleven through thirteen contain the events foreshadowed in the first chapter, including his trip to Israel and his experience with Jerusalem Syndrome. I don't know how much of this is true or exaggerated, but I thought most of this stuff was pretty stupid. Some of it is funny, but not in a very good way. Perhaps a Jewish person could relate to this more and find some value in it, but I could not.
Chapter fourteen is simply excellent. Maron returns home to do a benefit show for his old synagogue. He sees some friends and acquaintances from his youth and ends up helping out in a pretty big way. This concluding chapter is interesting and touching.
The Jerusalem Syndrome contains very little about Maron's career as a standup comic. There's a little bit about him getting his foot in the door as a comedian at The Comedy Store and then later a bit as he starts to make a name for himself with appearances on television. If you want more on the life and times of a standup comic, I don't think you can do any better than True Story, Bill Maher's fictional story of several standup comics trying to make careers for themselves during standup's golden years.
This book has some really good parts, but at least as many not so good parts. Perhaps the good parts make up for the not so good parts, but overall this was pretty disappointing considering how hilarious Maron's standup is. In any event, I'd rather just have more of Maron's standup comedy on CD or DVD.
1 of 1 found the following review helpful:
WTF Nov 12, 2010
By Adam Smith
I have really gotten to know Maron through his podcast over the last 6 months and I really dig his take on things. Thought I would check out his book and really enjoyed. He is definitely a nutty dude, but real intense and funny. One of the best comedian memoirs out there, and there are a lot. This book really delves into the mind of a guy who has an extreme mind.
1 of 1 found the following review helpful:
Brilliantly funny book Jun 21, 2010
If you're not a Marc Maron fan yet, you will be after you read this book. It's a collection of hilarious autobiographical essays--smart, philosophical, and always entertaining.
See all 10 customer reviews on Amazon.com