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Kasher in the Rye: The True Tale of a White Boy from Oakland Who Became a Drug Addict, Criminal, Mental Patient, and Then Turned 16

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Rising young comedian Moshe Kasher is lucky to be alive. He started using drugs when he was just 12. At that point, he had already been in psychoanalysis for 8 years. By the time he was 15, he had been in and out of several mental institutions, drifting from therapy to rehab to arrest to...you get the picture. But KASHER IN THE RYE is not an "eye opener" to the horrors of Rising young comedian Moshe Kasher is lucky to be alive. He started using drugs when he was just 12. At that point, he had already been in psychoanalysis for 8 years. By the time he was 15, he had been in and out of several mental institutions, drifting from therapy to rehab to arrest to...you get the picture. But KASHER IN THE RYE is not an "eye opener" to the horrors of addiction. It's a hilarious memoir about the absurdity of it all. When he was a young boy, Kasher's mother took him on a vacation to the West Coast. Well it was more like an abduction. Only not officially. She stole them away from their father and they moved to Oakland , California. That's where the real fun begins, in the war zone of Oakland Public Schools. He was more than just out of control-his mother walked him around on a leash, which he chewed through and ran away. Those early years read like part Augusten Burroughs, part David Sedaris, with a touch of Jim Carrol...but a lot more Jewish. In fact, Kasher later spends time in a Brooklyn Hasidic community. Then came addiction... Brutally honest and laugh-out-loud funny, Kasher's first literary endeavor finds humor in even the most horrifying situations.


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Rising young comedian Moshe Kasher is lucky to be alive. He started using drugs when he was just 12. At that point, he had already been in psychoanalysis for 8 years. By the time he was 15, he had been in and out of several mental institutions, drifting from therapy to rehab to arrest to...you get the picture. But KASHER IN THE RYE is not an "eye opener" to the horrors of Rising young comedian Moshe Kasher is lucky to be alive. He started using drugs when he was just 12. At that point, he had already been in psychoanalysis for 8 years. By the time he was 15, he had been in and out of several mental institutions, drifting from therapy to rehab to arrest to...you get the picture. But KASHER IN THE RYE is not an "eye opener" to the horrors of addiction. It's a hilarious memoir about the absurdity of it all. When he was a young boy, Kasher's mother took him on a vacation to the West Coast. Well it was more like an abduction. Only not officially. She stole them away from their father and they moved to Oakland , California. That's where the real fun begins, in the war zone of Oakland Public Schools. He was more than just out of control-his mother walked him around on a leash, which he chewed through and ran away. Those early years read like part Augusten Burroughs, part David Sedaris, with a touch of Jim Carrol...but a lot more Jewish. In fact, Kasher later spends time in a Brooklyn Hasidic community. Then came addiction... Brutally honest and laugh-out-loud funny, Kasher's first literary endeavor finds humor in even the most horrifying situations.

30 review for Kasher in the Rye: The True Tale of a White Boy from Oakland Who Became a Drug Addict, Criminal, Mental Patient, and Then Turned 16

  1. 4 out of 5

    Brandon

    I only really know Moshe Kasher from the two times I've heard him as a guest on Stop Podcasting Yourself, an excellent podcast from Vancouver based comedians Graham Clark and Dave Schumka. His appearances were pretty funny, the guy has a quick wit and an interesting sense of humor. On his most recent two appearances, he talked about writing a book that detailed his pretty sordid past involving drugs and mental health. Having gone through so much before his sixteenth birthday, there was no way thi I only really know Moshe Kasher from the two times I've heard him as a guest on Stop Podcasting Yourself, an excellent podcast from Vancouver based comedians Graham Clark and Dave Schumka. His appearances were pretty funny, the guy has a quick wit and an interesting sense of humor. On his most recent two appearances, he talked about writing a book that detailed his pretty sordid past involving drugs and mental health. Having gone through so much before his sixteenth birthday, there was no way this book could be anything but enthralling. I certainly wasn't wrong. It can be jarring listening (snagged a copy of the audiobook) to Moshe explain how one drug led to another and how serious his addictions became. The combination of drugs that he had been taking at one point was mind boggling, it's unbelievable just how much memory he retained. When you add a vicious and unforgiving attitude toward any authority figure as well as his mother, it's a wonder he came out the other end with such a positive attitude and achieved this level of success and comfort. Oh, and this book is really funny. Kasher is now a stand-up comedian and part time actor so he knows how to entertain. While he's regaling you with stories of his troubled youth, he keeps certain topics light by infusing his unique sense of humor. It takes a special kind of person to make you laugh while trying to justify being too lazy to walk the ten feet to the bathroom, electing rather to piss in empty soft drink cups and cast iron heaters.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bryan Mclellan

    I had heard Moshe was a comedian, but I knew him from else elsewhere and had never looked into it. I used to live in Seattle and was back for a few nights for work. A mutual friend told me Moshe was passing through on his comedy/book tour and picked up a copy of the book there. I had told my mother about all of this. She called me the other day and said she had read the book. Her brief comments carried a weight that conveyed there was more to say than words could be found for. Something unspoken I had heard Moshe was a comedian, but I knew him from else elsewhere and had never looked into it. I used to live in Seattle and was back for a few nights for work. A mutual friend told me Moshe was passing through on his comedy/book tour and picked up a copy of the book there. I had told my mother about all of this. She called me the other day and said she had read the book. Her brief comments carried a weight that conveyed there was more to say than words could be found for. Something unspoken had resonated with her. I'm stuck in Oakland for a couple days, in between two business trips. It made fiscal sense to stick around and provided me some rare free time. My first trip to Oakland, it took me a couple chapters to realize I had traveled to the city where the book was based. As I read I could hear Moshe, his written voice authentic to himself. He draws a narrative that would be frightening if not for his sense of humor along the way. I grew up, under completely different circumstances, an outsider and I have often wondered about people who present their shiny lives as perfection. What goes on behind their closed doors, in the recesses of their minds? What keeps them acting as though everything will be fine, not optimistically, or even defiantly, but for no other course? Abashed fear, I think. This is a really book for the fuck ups of the world who keep being told that they aren't right; a reminder that the whole world isn't as functional or as perfectly as it wants you believe that you should be.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Moira Russell

    OK I guess....it started off well, but this book needed about 40% less bragging about banging and an equal amount more time devoted to his sobering-up to make it really good. No doubt it works better as a stand-up routine, like Fisher's Wishful Drinking. Read Dry by Augusten Burroughs instead. OK I guess....it started off well, but this book needed about 40% less bragging about banging and an equal amount more time devoted to his sobering-up to make it really good. No doubt it works better as a stand-up routine, like Fisher's Wishful Drinking. Read Dry by Augusten Burroughs instead.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    I know Moshe, but I know him as a sober comedian who has done well and is a great, well-adjusted (for the most part :) dude. I didn't really know too much of his story because when I see him, he jokes and good things are discussed that are of the current persuasion. He did not tell me about his book coming out, I saw it on the book shelf at Barnes and Noble. I am glad I bought it. This book made me laugh out loud... like, literally, not this LOL bull. Moshe has one hell-of-a story to tell and it I know Moshe, but I know him as a sober comedian who has done well and is a great, well-adjusted (for the most part :) dude. I didn't really know too much of his story because when I see him, he jokes and good things are discussed that are of the current persuasion. He did not tell me about his book coming out, I saw it on the book shelf at Barnes and Noble. I am glad I bought it. This book made me laugh out loud... like, literally, not this LOL bull. Moshe has one hell-of-a story to tell and it's amazing to me that his life played out in the way it did. Some of the ironies are too good. Anyhow, the book is funny, well-written, and contains the feelings that being a teenage alcoholic undoubtedly possess, no matter where you grow up.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Clif Hostetler

    The subtitle of this book pretty well describes what it’s about, so there’s no need for me to repeat it here. The question I kept asking myself while listening to the audio of this book was, “Will this foster within me a sense of empathy for the young graffiti artists, vandals and wearers of low baggy pants who roam my neighborhood? The answer is, “Not much.” But it does remind me that it’s always possible that those sorts of young people can grow up to be something other than a criminal. Perhap The subtitle of this book pretty well describes what it’s about, so there’s no need for me to repeat it here. The question I kept asking myself while listening to the audio of this book was, “Will this foster within me a sense of empathy for the young graffiti artists, vandals and wearers of low baggy pants who roam my neighborhood? The answer is, “Not much.” But it does remind me that it’s always possible that those sorts of young people can grow up to be something other than a criminal. Perhaps a small possibility, but anything is possible. This book is a memoir of a man named Moshe Kasher who as a kid did many disgusting things including stealing from this mother and grandmother, marking graffiti on wall of his family’s house, being too lazy to walk down the hallway to pee, repeatedly flunking out of schools, etc. I kept imagining how bad I would feel if I had a son who was this screwed up. One has to wonder how much of this sort of behavior is caused by genes and how much environment? The author had an older brother who was a model student and earned an academic scholarship to college, so the environment couldn’t have been too bad. As miserable as this may sound, the audio version of this book was surprisingly entertaining to listen to. The author is a standup comedian, and he is also the reader for the audio version of the book. He includes all the comic timing, pauses and voice impersonations that one can expect from a successful comic. So while I kept shaking my head in disbelief at the awful lows he sank to as a juvenile dope addict, I also was laughing at the way it was being described. But as one can expect from most popular comedians, the language gets a bit raunchy. There’s no bleeping of the unmentionable words so I don’t recommend this book for readers with sensitive feelings. But if you can go with the flow the book is very entertaining. Of course, one of the reasons that the book is tolerable is the fact that the reader knows that the author lived to adulthood because he wrote the book (and recorded the audio of it). But in the epilogue he reviews what happened to many of his friends from this era of his life, and it’s not a happy end in many cases. It’s clear that if he had not managed to “make a right turn in his life,” he was headed for a life of crime and/or early death. For a father's perspective dealing with a son addicted to drugs, I recommend Beautiful Boy A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction. Here's a short review of this book from the PageADay Book Lover's Calendar for July 14, 2014: If you are tempted to read this memoir after making your way through its lengthy subtitle, then you're pretty well guaranteed to love it. If, however, you're easily upset when it comes to borderline-tragic, train-wreck childhoods, pass this one by. for those in the former category, Kasher leavens the disastrous aspects of his life story with a gift for bizarrely funny observation. Happily, he somehow managed to sidestep what should have been his inevitable demise, and that should give all of us reason for optimism. Kasher In The Rye: The True Tale of a White Boy From Oakland Who Became A Drug Addict, Criminal, Mental Patient, And Then Turned 16, by Moshe Kasher (Grand Central, 2012)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Glenn Conley

    This book was a huge disappointment. I expected it to be the story of how Moshe Kasher became such an awesome comedian. But that's not what it's about, at all. It's about his fucking childhood. Seriously, from like birth, until he gets his fucking GED at 16. Like I fucking care about that shit? Fuck no. I wanted to read about how he first got on stage. How he bombed horribly. How he got gang raped in the alley, behind the club. How he went home crying, to his mommy. But no. It's not about that at This book was a huge disappointment. I expected it to be the story of how Moshe Kasher became such an awesome comedian. But that's not what it's about, at all. It's about his fucking childhood. Seriously, from like birth, until he gets his fucking GED at 16. Like I fucking care about that shit? Fuck no. I wanted to read about how he first got on stage. How he bombed horribly. How he got gang raped in the alley, behind the club. How he went home crying, to his mommy. But no. It's not about that at all. It's just fucking bullshit about how his parents are deaf, and life is so hard... Cry me a fucking river. I don't fucking care. Okay, the bit where his mother asked him if he was a faggot every Sunday, after church... That shit was funny. Because, come on, Moshe Kasher is the faggotest guy who ever lived. I mean look at this guy... Of course his mother thinks he's a faggot. But she assures him that it's okay. It's fine, if you're a faggot. Which it is, of course. But he denies it. Every Sunday, he tells her that no, he's not, in fact, a faggot. Sure, buddy. Keep telling yourself that. The book goes on and on about how Moshe tried to get in gangs. Yea right. This faggot tried to get into gangs? Seriously? He'd chip a nail! Then he rants about stealing shit, and doing drugs, and going to rehab over and over. I just can't see it, man. It's got to be fiction. There's no way this faggot got into gangs, stole shit, did shit tons of drugs, and all that bullshit. There's just no way. He must have just pulled these stories out of his ass, because I don't believe a fucking word of it. And don't give me shit about using the word 'faggot', you fucking assholes. It's just a word. Get over it. I'm a big fat faggot myself. But even if I wasn't, it's just a goddamn word. And don't tell me it doesn't apply to Moshe Kasher, because seriously... Just look at the guy. There's no fucking way he's straight. There. I said it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    I wish I could give this 4.5 stars. The writing was great, the story compelling, but I felt cheated. 95% of the book was the author's descent into addiction, and then suddenly it's three years later and he's fine. After all of the suffering, and then it's just over? Don't get me wrong, I loved what ending there was, but it felt like getting to watch half a movie and then having to skip to the last track of the DVD. I wish I could give this 4.5 stars. The writing was great, the story compelling, but I felt cheated. 95% of the book was the author's descent into addiction, and then suddenly it's three years later and he's fine. After all of the suffering, and then it's just over? Don't get me wrong, I loved what ending there was, but it felt like getting to watch half a movie and then having to skip to the last track of the DVD.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Autumn

    This is a memoir from someone who grew up very differently than I did, although we're around the same age. Moshe Kasher was just a bad kid. He grew up in Oakland, and his environment provided him with a lot of avenues for the chip on his shoulder to be expressed, mainly through drugs, which got him into a lot of trouble that spiraled out of control by the time he was 16 years old. This book is very, very good birth control. I can't imagine what his mom went through dealing with a kid who was in This is a memoir from someone who grew up very differently than I did, although we're around the same age. Moshe Kasher was just a bad kid. He grew up in Oakland, and his environment provided him with a lot of avenues for the chip on his shoulder to be expressed, mainly through drugs, which got him into a lot of trouble that spiraled out of control by the time he was 16 years old. This book is very, very good birth control. I can't imagine what his mom went through dealing with a kid who was in trouble so many times, had a huge drug problem, was kicked out of multiple schools and in legal trouble before he even learned to drive. This was a quick read, very funny but also a great look at a unique coming of age experience. I think this would be a perfect addition to YA collections everywhere. Kasher is still a smart ass, even as an adult writing this memoir. He sometimes seems to wink at the reader saying yeah, I know, drugs and being a little asshole were FUN! while coming to terms with how messed up his life became because of his behavior. That balance is what makes this a great book and worth reading for people who enjoy memoirs. Leaps and bounds better than any other book I've read by a comedian. Also, for what it's worth, I'm not even a big fan of this guy's stand up. Just really enjoyed the book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Hopkins

    I liked this book a lot, even if I felt like a lot of the narrative surrounding the drug use, criminal behavior and mental disorders sort of tried to romanticize it in a way. It definitely made the story more interesting to kind of see Kasher go through his entire childhood all over again with commentary that put you right there in the moment, but some of it read as if he was proud of it all - even though clearly he's not. I don't know if I'm explaining this in a way that makes sense, but it's j I liked this book a lot, even if I felt like a lot of the narrative surrounding the drug use, criminal behavior and mental disorders sort of tried to romanticize it in a way. It definitely made the story more interesting to kind of see Kasher go through his entire childhood all over again with commentary that put you right there in the moment, but some of it read as if he was proud of it all - even though clearly he's not. I don't know if I'm explaining this in a way that makes sense, but it's just the impression I got. That aside, I really did enjoy the book. I laughed out loud many many times while also feeling completely gutted, especially when he talks of what he was knowingly doing to his mother and grandmother while obliterating himself to the point where he didn't have to think about it. The use of humor to express childhood pain is nothing new, and neither are stories about young inner-city kids getting into hardcore drugs...but the pairing of the two is unique, which makes for a great book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Disclaimer: don't read this book without first watching/listening to Moshe Kasher's stand up comedy. This book's narrative undercuts Kasher's genuine intelligence, mostly because he fails to distinguish his juvenile 'then' voice from his learned, adult 'now' voice. Doing so would have improved the readability and overall value of the book for readers searching for some meaning in teenage strife. Furthermore, I would prefer that he write a book that is strictly about his experience growing up wit Disclaimer: don't read this book without first watching/listening to Moshe Kasher's stand up comedy. This book's narrative undercuts Kasher's genuine intelligence, mostly because he fails to distinguish his juvenile 'then' voice from his learned, adult 'now' voice. Doing so would have improved the readability and overall value of the book for readers searching for some meaning in teenage strife. Furthermore, I would prefer that he write a book that is strictly about his experience growing up with deaf parents and working as an interpreter for the deaf. This would be much more engrossing than his life as a teenage brat. There's so much to be said about the divide between the hearing world and the deaf world. Kasher says it best when he points out that as a hearing person who grew up with deaf parents, he's forced to live in a purgatory where to other people he's never quite a deaf person, but never quite a hearing person, either. Please, Kasher, write another book and expand on this!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    There always seems a perverse logic in that twelve-steppers seem to replace their addiction with an addiction for telling war stories about when they were addicted. This book to me felt like an extended form of one of those war story sessions, and not much more. It was well-written, and had some funny lines in it, but it seemed to dwell in the glorification of being fifteen, taking lots of acid, ripping people off, and causing property damage. It almost read like one of those religious motivatio There always seems a perverse logic in that twelve-steppers seem to replace their addiction with an addiction for telling war stories about when they were addicted. This book to me felt like an extended form of one of those war story sessions, and not much more. It was well-written, and had some funny lines in it, but it seemed to dwell in the glorification of being fifteen, taking lots of acid, ripping people off, and causing property damage. It almost read like one of those religious motivational speaker's books, and I half expected it to end with the typical "and then I surrendered to the lord my savior" thing, which it didn't, thankfully. I like Kasher's comedy, and this book was well-written, but my own personal issues around it made it a tough sell.

  12. 4 out of 5

    India Braver

    A brutally honest memoir about Moshe Kasher's life as an addict, alcoholic, Jewish kid growing up in Oakland. Everything, even in all its ridiculousness, comes across as very authentic despite the absurdity- Holden would be proud; nothing feels phony about this. The way he describes feeling broken will stay with me for forever. Yet despite the subject matter, I still found myself laughing out loud at parts. Even describing his troubled past, he's clearly very smart (listen to his stand up if you A brutally honest memoir about Moshe Kasher's life as an addict, alcoholic, Jewish kid growing up in Oakland. Everything, even in all its ridiculousness, comes across as very authentic despite the absurdity- Holden would be proud; nothing feels phony about this. The way he describes feeling broken will stay with me for forever. Yet despite the subject matter, I still found myself laughing out loud at parts. Even describing his troubled past, he's clearly very smart (listen to his stand up if you haven't!) and it shines through. Also, once he gave me a turkey for Thanksgiving, and I really needed it, so thanks!! <3

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sandy Plants

    I don’t even know what to say... I have tears in my eyes—I just finished the book. I’ve never read a book that made me laugh so hard and feel such empathy and sorrow for the characters (real people, it turns out—it’s a memoir, Kye...) Moshe is a talented writer. I never thought I would cheer for a 14 year-old asshole, addict, but I did. I cheered and I cried. I delayed finishing the book because I wanted it to go on forever. It’s ugly and raw but it’s beautiful. *the baby sjw in me wants to take I don’t even know what to say... I have tears in my eyes—I just finished the book. I’ve never read a book that made me laugh so hard and feel such empathy and sorrow for the characters (real people, it turns out—it’s a memoir, Kye...) Moshe is a talented writer. I never thought I would cheer for a 14 year-old asshole, addict, but I did. I cheered and I cried. I delayed finishing the book because I wanted it to go on forever. It’s ugly and raw but it’s beautiful. *the baby sjw in me wants to take a star off for his ableist and homophobic language, but I was even okay with that somehow because the book was simply THAT good.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Hasan

    This book was incredible. An amazing memoir by Moshe Kasher.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    This book should be required reading and I don't even believe in required reading. This book should be required reading and I don't even believe in required reading.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Hicks

    Kasher in the Rye, a brutally funny teenage-addiction memoir from standup comic Moshe Kasher, was conceived as a one-man stage show. It has the intimate rhythm of heartfelt performance, too - the majority of this is delivered starkly, without unnecessary words or egomaniacal self-indulgence. Of the 125 or so books I've read in the past 15 months, this is the laugh-out-loud funniest. The disclaimer up front states that inaccuracies will occur, but the narrative seems authentic, save for the wildly Kasher in the Rye, a brutally funny teenage-addiction memoir from standup comic Moshe Kasher, was conceived as a one-man stage show. It has the intimate rhythm of heartfelt performance, too - the majority of this is delivered starkly, without unnecessary words or egomaniacal self-indulgence. Of the 125 or so books I've read in the past 15 months, this is the laugh-out-loud funniest. The disclaimer up front states that inaccuracies will occur, but the narrative seems authentic, save for the wildly funny, obviously exaggerated detours. Kasher will go off-topic to launch a bit, but he gets in and out, and he brings the linear narrative right back. It's well-organized and not distracting. Take note, Bob Saget! For that matter, take note, Russell Brand! Kasher continually name-drops Jim Carroll’s The Basketball Diaries , which I still need to read. But what this most reminds me of - partly because of the Jewy-ness of it all, and partly because of the litany of substance abuse described, but mainly because of dark, unflinching humor that works - is Jerry Stahl's Permanent Midnight . Which, for roughly 15 years, has been the gold standard of darkly comic drug-life nonfiction. Indeed, a glowing back-cover blurb from Stahl himself lends Kasher instant pedigree. Kasher is the first memoir I've read where the narrative starts at birth. Great idea, but it's the most boring section of the book. I actually considered bailing before I was out of the first chapter, but it was thankfully the base for good momentum setting. There's a brief history of his family, going back a few generations, and we find out both his parents were deaf. Dad was gone from the scene by the time Moshe turned 1, and he was in therapy by age 4. Growing up in Oakland, racially, he was a minority. Kasher's best friend moved away just before the start of middle school. Cue a group of new friends, who turn out to be fuckups. Moshe falls behind in school and ends up in the special-ed portable building. He starts smoking cigarettes at age 12. Then, at page 53, comes "Part Two: Fun," and the book really takes off from there. Kasher in the Rye for me shattered the mold cast by a trio of one-word-titled rehab books ( Drunkard, Dry and Tweak ) that I'd read just prior. All three had the same structure of "I hit my drug hard, then I pulled wayyy back with treatment and therapy that comprises the middle half of this book, then whoops--I relapsed! But, is it time to wrap up? Happy ending time." Kasher is progressive mayhem and wall-to-wall therapy, with no interruption in the downward spiral. But yes, it's still happy ending time in the last few pages. And that's cool. Stories like this need a happy ending.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Danna

    When I first started Kasher in the Rye, I was put off by the constant stream of witty banter. Moshe is funny, but like I've often felt watching the Gilmore Girls, I thought, "How much funny can I take? Does literally EVERY line need to be an intelligent joke?" I stuck with it and I am so glad I did. By the end of the book, I was grateful for the humor, which helped me survive the heartbreaking moments without sinking into a depression. Moshe's story is the real-life struggle of adolescent alcoho When I first started Kasher in the Rye, I was put off by the constant stream of witty banter. Moshe is funny, but like I've often felt watching the Gilmore Girls, I thought, "How much funny can I take? Does literally EVERY line need to be an intelligent joke?" I stuck with it and I am so glad I did. By the end of the book, I was grateful for the humor, which helped me survive the heartbreaking moments without sinking into a depression. Moshe's story is the real-life struggle of adolescent alcoholism: scary shit. The relationship with his mother, Bea, is reminiscent of so many codependent enablers, and painful to experience. I remember the fights and anger with my own mother, and the desire to oust any part of my life that stopped me from drinking. Moshe's singleminded focus on friends and drugs is tangible; when we are twelve or thirteen years old, our friends are our world. His cycle through rehabs, alternative schools, and street life is discouraging and difficult. Thank God he's funny. Like I said, otherwise this might be too awful to read, like The Road of Lost Innocence or Girls Like Us (both books I highly recommend). Full disclosure: I'm friendly with Moshe Kasher, and I read this book because I like him quite a bit. He really did turn out okay. Favorite quotes: "Later, when I became black, I would often call people nigga, but that was affectionate and a reclamation of the word. Actually, technically it was a re-reclamation of the word, as it had already been reclaimed by actual black people. My people, whites who wished they were black, then re-reclaimed it from them and used it among ourselves, proving that white people could use the word in a cool, friendly way" (27) "Before I got high, i had no idea that's what had been wrong the whole time... That's the secret no one tells you when you're a kid. That it feels fucking great... They don't tell you that shit because then everybody will want to get high" (63) "I realized in that little high sambo slam-dance circle, right before I melted into hemp butter, that I never wanted not to be high again. I would do whatever it took to get high forever, all the time, for the rest of my life. I was twelve years old and I'd found my calling. Stay high, stay drunk, at all costs" (65)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Camille

    It was interesting to read this right after Ta-Nehisi Coates' The Beautiful Struggle. I actually heard about both of these books on Kasher's podcast The Champs (great podcast btw). As the mother of a small boy, I am now appropriately freaked out for my son to become a teenager (!), but I am also doubly determined to be a good mom who is available to her kids not so much to pummel them with advice or discipline like an army sergeant but to listen and keep an ongoing dialogue so they feel safe, lo It was interesting to read this right after Ta-Nehisi Coates' The Beautiful Struggle. I actually heard about both of these books on Kasher's podcast The Champs (great podcast btw). As the mother of a small boy, I am now appropriately freaked out for my son to become a teenager (!), but I am also doubly determined to be a good mom who is available to her kids not so much to pummel them with advice or discipline like an army sergeant but to listen and keep an ongoing dialogue so they feel safe, loved, respected, and (most importantly) heard. Curiously while Kasher and Coates both seem to share and be weighed down by the burden of history -- Kasher's is mostly personal (the stigma of deaf parents, divorce) whereas Coates' is personal AND societal -- that said, the way they respond diverges wildly. Whereas Coates's frustration mostly manifests itself as rebellious and defiant behaviour, Kasher takes that rebellion and defiant behaviour and raises us a raging drug problem, alcoholism, drug dealing, and violent criminal activity. Just when I thought Kasher couldn't engage in any thing worse (fleeing rape allegations? random beatings? stealing from his mother to buy alcohol) and was going to finally clean up his act, he just continued to rage and rage until he finally hit his hard rock bottom. It was a harrowing and chilling ride, but the one thing that rose to the top was Moshe's mother's dogged persistence (something also evidenced by Coates' parents in The Beautiful Struggle). He was kicked out of school after school after school and he was emotionally and physically abusive to his mother but she never gave up on him. Frankly, I don't know if I'd be able to endure a quarter of what she did, but what she did seems to be the major reason Moshe is alive and kicking and a success today. Finally, I sadly can't help but wonder where/what Moshe would be if he wasn't white. I spent my early school years in school in Oakland and white kids were few and far between; ignored at worst, protected/coddled at best. They were objects of curiosity more than anything else. None of this to say the system went easy on Moshe (spoiler alert: he went through it), but I feel like a black boy wouldhave received a LOT worst for doing a lot less. Oh racism!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rissy

    I was drawn to this one after I saw Moshe Kasher on The Pete Holmes Show, thought he was incredibly funny, and found out he wrote a memoir punning my favorite American novel. Kasher in the Rye: The True Tale of a White Boy from Oakland Who Became a Drug Addict, Criminal, Mental Patient, and Then Turned 16 is exactly that. This memoir is absolutely wild - wickedly funny, unbelievably sad, featuring broad and unexpected authorship on a number of different subjects: deafness, special education, ther I was drawn to this one after I saw Moshe Kasher on The Pete Holmes Show, thought he was incredibly funny, and found out he wrote a memoir punning my favorite American novel. Kasher in the Rye: The True Tale of a White Boy from Oakland Who Became a Drug Addict, Criminal, Mental Patient, and Then Turned 16 is exactly that. This memoir is absolutely wild - wickedly funny, unbelievably sad, featuring broad and unexpected authorship on a number of different subjects: deafness, special education, therapy, drugs, and juvenile crime. The reader resents young Kasher for being such a miserable little prick while commending the adult Kasher for being able to write his experiences with commendable honesty. Kasher uses comedy not to ironize or satirize his life, but to draw powerful relatability from his audience. If you’re like me and you can tick off three of the experiences on my aforementioned list, there’s probably a memory of 15-year-old you getting told off by an authority, deserving it, resenting it, and doing stupid shit about it. The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton by the Mountain Goats comes to mind - “When you punish a person for dreaming their dream, don’t expect them to thank or forgive you.” Kasher in the Rye is a book about circumstance, coming of age, and the unexpected places we end up finding redemption. Kasher's prose is unique and excellent. His wry, irreverent humor drives this novel and he surprises with bursts of insight and empathy, especially for the last 15 or so pages. This is a book for the teen freaks who found comfort in the angsty, traumatized, self-medicated mind of Holden Caulfield and the kind of adults they grew into. I fucking love it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sheehan

    Picked up the book because the author grew up and hung out in the neighborhoods I have inhabited for the past twenty years. His story is a familiar but very well told narrative arc of the junkie redeemed. Kahser's life is resonant in the ways in which he is able to identify and own the aspects of a difficult start in life (e.g. divorce, drugs, deaf parents, etc.) and tell his story relevantly at each stage in the decent into chaos. Best of all, he spent very little time on the recovery. The lion's Picked up the book because the author grew up and hung out in the neighborhoods I have inhabited for the past twenty years. His story is a familiar but very well told narrative arc of the junkie redeemed. Kahser's life is resonant in the ways in which he is able to identify and own the aspects of a difficult start in life (e.g. divorce, drugs, deaf parents, etc.) and tell his story relevantly at each stage in the decent into chaos. Best of all, he spent very little time on the recovery. The lion's share of the book is his literally running wild in North Oakland, the lessons he slowly digests over the years and then the turn to sobriety. The recovery part of most junkie books is boring, it would have been anti-climactic in this text as well, which is why I think Kasher really did a great job editing down the text to the very best parts. One of the better memoirs I have read of 2011-12!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    So many children just have horrible lives. I am SHOCKED that Moshe Kasher is still alive let alone amounted to anything. I know that sounds harsh. But he has had a harsh life. He is so funny and I LOVED his podcast with Neal Brennan. For purely selfish reasons I want them to keep succeeding. They crack me up and I love their emotional honesty. It seems as if every day there are less and less things that are funny. Just when you think funny is dying you run across a really good comedian. Then you So many children just have horrible lives. I am SHOCKED that Moshe Kasher is still alive let alone amounted to anything. I know that sounds harsh. But he has had a harsh life. He is so funny and I LOVED his podcast with Neal Brennan. For purely selfish reasons I want them to keep succeeding. They crack me up and I love their emotional honesty. It seems as if every day there are less and less things that are funny. Just when you think funny is dying you run across a really good comedian. Then you are sad again when you find out their funny comes from a place of pain. Moshe Kasher makes you laugh at things in this book that are not funny. You will catch yourself mid-laugh and say "what the hell is wrong with me".

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kal

    I don't work with kids like this, but I know a lot of people who have and this could give them at least some inspiration. You should read this book for two main reasons: 1.) Moshe Kasher is as good a writer of stories as he is of making them funny as hell on stage! 2.) When someone says "I was a bad kid" you can say "fuck you - did you....?". No spoilers! I don't work with kids like this, but I know a lot of people who have and this could give them at least some inspiration. You should read this book for two main reasons: 1.) Moshe Kasher is as good a writer of stories as he is of making them funny as hell on stage! 2.) When someone says "I was a bad kid" you can say "fuck you - did you....?". No spoilers!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Martira

    A well-written, self-aware memoir about fucking up and being out of control. There is something in Kasher's story for everyone who has made bad decisions, or had bad decisions thrust upon them, and found the grace to make a right turn. A well-written, self-aware memoir about fucking up and being out of control. There is something in Kasher's story for everyone who has made bad decisions, or had bad decisions thrust upon them, and found the grace to make a right turn.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    really liked the guy when he did standup on a late night show, but sadly, too many swear words and such for me to get far into it. deleted from my ipad.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Engaging and funny. A great read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Gideon

    I picked it up and didn't put it down honestly, it's definitely more serious than the tone he writes in implies but it makes it more jarring that he does write about his life like that I picked it up and didn't put it down honestly, it's definitely more serious than the tone he writes in implies but it makes it more jarring that he does write about his life like that

  27. 5 out of 5

    Palula Clarkelle

    This isn’t a book review so much as it’s an impression on handling the difficult cases in special education. I am the target audience of this book: I got into the Champs podcast roughly three years after it ended. It is a delightful podcast—Kasher and Neal Brennan, co-creator of Chapelle Show, interview black celebrities and talk about race in both poignant and tactless ways, all while using a comedic dj who does soundboard drops as a spin on morning radio djs. It’s hard for me to fathom anyone r This isn’t a book review so much as it’s an impression on handling the difficult cases in special education. I am the target audience of this book: I got into the Champs podcast roughly three years after it ended. It is a delightful podcast—Kasher and Neal Brennan, co-creator of Chapelle Show, interview black celebrities and talk about race in both poignant and tactless ways, all while using a comedic dj who does soundboard drops as a spin on morning radio djs. It’s hard for me to fathom anyone reading this book who wasn’t a fan of the Champs, but if you’re interested—listen to the Donnell Rawlings episode (the actor who said “I’m rich, bitch on Chappelle Show)—they all dig through their interpersonal drama with incredible candor, which feels like a novelty among men, let alone across the boundaries of race. Moshe, inspired by a “shame spiral” art piece he saw at Burning Man, has everyone go around in a circle and talk about what they’re ashamed of. It deserved the podcast equivalent of a Peabody. The hosts can be problematic and ignorant at times, and engage in toxic masculinity, but they’re also very talented. I’m also the target audience because I work in special education, and this book functions like a long form case study of a kid who falls through the cracks of the education system for a myriad of reasons. Moshe is a lot like the students I work with—he was physically out of control as a child (with a dx of ADHD) to the extent that his mother regularly used leash/harness restraints on him in public to keep him from impulsively running into traffic. He also had a well of rage to draw from, related to communication breakdowns growing up as the child of two deaf parents. The angriest kids I meet are often the ones who just can’t tell someone why they’re upset, or who physically couldn’t during formative ages 0-5 due to autism, developmental delay, being tongue tied, etc. He acted out and called out in class a lot and was sent to a special education classroom, and recalls with intense disdain how he was told he had a learning disability around fourth grade. It seems like his school fucked up in many ways—usually, if a student has a learning disability, it’s identified in the first or second grade and they’re given minutes of support with the goal of keeping them with their peers as much as possible. He’s also incredibly well spoken and intelligent, so I’m dubious of exactly what learning disability teacher claim he had—he doesn’t specify. It sounds like the teacher just wanted to send him to a special Ed classroom for behavioral reasons—because the kids with ADHD are also the most impulsive, essentially fearless of social mores because they can’t control those impulses and realize they can get attention for pushing boundaries. I dated someone in high school who had ADHD, dropped out, and ultimately went to prison—the struggle is very real. I also COULD NOT believe how fucked up it was that they had him translating his own parent teacher conferences to his mother, as well as his own IEP meetings. Students younger than 6th grade are never invited to those meetings, because being talked about as this unfixable problem puts an enormous feeling of shame and stigma onto them. I’m optimistic that if I saw a case like this, we’d give the kid the help of a classroom assistant and help with a specific subject instead of dumping them in a special ed classroom. Unfortunately, there are sometimes no easy solutions, especially when a kid is physically out of control. (Throwing desks, stabbing them selves with pencils, running out of classrooms, etc.) Moshe’s tale of tail spinning from a special ed classroom to crime with his Uber 90s gang the Pure Adrenaline Gangsters was honestly horrifying. I know kids where the team has tried everything and nothing seems to work or stick, and I’m terrified that they’ll go the same route—because negative attention is still attention. At times, Moshe expresses no remorse for truly reprehensible things—selling acid to a kid who had a heart attack, robbing people and his family blind, and openly calling people with learning disabilities retards. It also has throwback 90s amorality, and at times the author seems like he’s nostalgic for a time when it was somehow considered cool to call people retards, gay, bitches, etc. He recalls a time where he was incredibly low and seemed severely depressed, at one point talks about peeing on the floor in his room routinely because he just didn’t care about anything. That’s just as big of an energy suck to read about as I’m sure it was endlessly tormenting for his family. Even as a fan of his later work, it was difficult to read, because he as a teenager just sounded so mean spirited, abusive and impossible to love. There is, ultimately, a tacked-on happy ending. If Moshe’s comedy career ever stalls, I think he’d make an amazing advocate in the special education field—karmically it seems like he’ll get to a full-circle moment like that, just based on the way he lashed out at all the people who tried to help him.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Greg Öman

    Interesting and funny memoir set in Oakland that gives some good insight into addiction but a lot of it seems pretty childish, I would have liked more about his recovery and journey to becoming a comedian.

  29. 5 out of 5

    J.T.

    This book greatly exceeded my expectations. I like Kasher's stand-up work, but I had no idea of his insane past. This book literally made me laugh, but more importantly (or unexpectedly), made me cry. This book greatly exceeded my expectations. I like Kasher's stand-up work, but I had no idea of his insane past. This book literally made me laugh, but more importantly (or unexpectedly), made me cry.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Yehuda

    Really sad book, but very well written and has tons of interesting stories.

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