One-Legged Mongoose

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Published by: Greenpoint Press
Release Date: Coming September 2021


ONE-LEGGED MONGOOSE is a vibrant portrayal of the 1950s and of a young Jewish immigrant family. It is the story of a precocious boy whose life is informed by terrible physical abuse at home. He is fiercely independent and rebels against almost all authority and yet there are people who see and value his potential. He struggles to break the cycle of abuse which permeates so much of who he is and finally entering puberty we see great hope.


“There are pivotal years in life when everything changes and comes into focus. In this touching memoir, Marc Straus reaches back to two eventful years in his childhood and retells them in rich and vivid detail. There are secrets and accidents and illnesses and, most of all, awakenings. Ultimately, One-Legged Mongoose is about how a sometimes abused, sometimes loved, and always bookish boy becomes a man. It is a moving story that will make readers think about their own journeys.”
Ari L. Goldman, Professor of Journalism, Columbia University, and author of The Search for God at Harvard

“Marc Straus, writing as his ten-year-old self, tells us ‘Memories often stay in me as though they might be now,’ and that is why reading One-Legged Mongoose, utterly enthralled, is to live two catastrophic years in the now of this lovable, wise kid, down to the finest details. In this prodigious act of memory, one imperfect family in the America of the ’50s is seen through the clear gaze of an acute student of reality who captivates us with his matter-of-fact profundity, his brave refusal to look away. The book is a wonder, as close to recovered experience as language can provide, and the title is an apt metaphor for the fearmongering that drives so much of history, then and now.”
Eleanor Wilner, MacArthur Award-winning author of Before Our Eyes: New and Selected Poems

“In One-Legged Mongoose, Marc Straus boldly assumes the point of view of the preadolescent boy he was in the early 1950s, when his story takes place. Because his recall is so remarkably vivid and detailed, and because the young Marc was so keenly aware of the historical and personal violence that shaped his character, the result is a riveting and insightful account of an American Jewish childhood in the shadow of the Great Depression and the Holocaust.”
Matthew Sharpe, author of Jamestown and The Sleeping Father

“Marc Straus has written an astonishing memoir full of humor and hilarity, heart and vision. This year’s sleeper hit, I predict. A must read!”
Mary Karr, author of The Liars’ Club and Lit

“Marc Straus’s One-Legged Mongoose is a wry and insightful memoir of a bright, resourceful New York boy who survives polio, endures a four-hour daily commute to a Yeshiva in Queens, and tells no one about the secret abuse he suffers at home. A great addition to the lore of New York in the era following WWII.”
Dan Wakefield, author of New York in the Fifties and Spiritually Incorrect