The Book of Irv will have to be presented in three parts, I’m thinking now.
Part One will be a more or less straight chronology of his life, in the manner of the eulogy spoken over his mortal remains at the First Hebrew Congregation Cemetery in Cortlandt Manor, NY on May 5, 2005. Part One will sketch the broad sweep of his life the way a detailed obituary might, citing every available fact about his known life. Part one will map his life’s worldly trajectory, with as much detail as I can provide.
Part Two will lay out the teachings of my father, the deepest beliefs and values he held, the contradictions that he faced, the futility that stared him down, his abilities and inabilities, his personalized army of demons.
Part Two will also briefly treat his complex personality, the heroic and the barbaric sides of it, which always existed simultaneously and without contradiction.
Part Two will also lay out the mine field of his life, the nature of his many battles. From the terrors of the violent abuse he endured as an infant to the infinitely gradated “non-violent” abuse he dispensed on his own babies.
Part Three is the after-party, where my father himself, present as an occasional talking head in parts one and two, is given free rein, through the sardonic jaws of his skeleton, in conversation with his hubristic biographer.
Contained in this final part are the skeleton’s deeper musings about history, the nature of human society, striving, ethnic hatred, the possibility and impossibility of human growth, evolution and positive change, the complexity of the world that confronts us, perfectly constructed abuse, tailored with care, in order to achieve the maximum sadistic effect.
“If you do nothing more than lay out that definition of abuse you stumbled on– and put into my mouth: ‘…whatever you need, you will get the opposite, shoved at you, and a stinging slap in the face if you complain about it,’– you’ll have done a service. If you get paid $10,000 for the manuscript, you can consider your time well-spent, whether Leonard Lopate ever reads the Book of Irv or not,” said the skeleton.