Bruce Jay Friedman Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Bruce Jay Friedman has written several novels, the most commercially and critically successful of which have been Stern (1962, 1988) and A Mother’s Kisses (1964). Among his later novels are The Current Climate (1989) and A Father’s Kisses (1996). His other works include essays in popular periodicals; two major plays, both produced in New York; screenplays; a parody of contemporary self-help manuals; book reviews; and journalistic pieces. In 1995, he published a sequel to The Lonely Guy’s Book of Life (1978), entitled The Slightly Older Guy. His play Have You Spoken to Any Jews Lately? was produced at the American Jewish Theater in New York in 1995.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Bruce Jay Friedman is an American short-story writer, novelist, playwright, scriptwriter, journalist, and editor who has a talent for examining the ironic and often comic aspects of contemporary Jewish life. He named, and has often been linked to, the black humor tradition arising out of the 1960’s. In this literary movement, writers emphasize the absurdities of existence through irreverent or grotesque humor. Friedman’s central characters are usually middle-class Jews who are alienated from their roots and from mainstream society. They are shallow creatures lost in a fragmented, absurd America, searching for acceptance and strength. Friedman’s work has often been compared to that of Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, and Bernard Malamud. He is less intellectual than the aforementioned—more visceral in his approach. Friedman has achieved critical success in different genres, including the short story, the novel, and drama. Although best known as a novelist, he has also devoted time to adapting material for the screen. Friedman won the prestigious Obie Award for his play Scuba Duba: A Tense Comedy (1968). His The Collected Short Fiction of Bruce Jay Friedman was published in 1996 to excellent reviews.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Gefen, Pearl Sheffy. “Bear of a Man.” The Jerusalem Post, December 5, 1996, p. 4. A biographical sketch, combined with an interview of Friedman. Friedman talks about the ups and downs of his career, his encounters with Hollywood screenwriters, his relationship to his family, and his reaction to reviewers.

Nilson, Don L. F. “Humorous Contemporary Jewish American Writers: An Overview of the Criticism.” MELUS 21 (Winter, 1996): 71-101. Friedman is one of several authors included in this bibliographic essay. A useful guide to further reading.

Nolan, Tom. “Master of His Universe.” Review of The Collected Short Fiction of Bruce Jay Friedman, by Bruce Jay Friedman. The Los Angeles Times Book Review, March 3, 1996, p. 4. Nolan discusses Friedman’s flair for bizarre comedy, his talent for fantasy, and his focus on the recurring character Harry Towns in several of his stories.

Schulz, Max. Black Humor Fiction of the Sixties: A Pluralistic Definition of Man and His World. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1973. Schulz has made a career of examining black humor writers in general, Friedman in particular. He develops the concept of the emergence of black humor in the 1960’s, defines it, and examines its leading exponents. In a separate chapter on Friedman, his novel Stern is compared...

(The entire section is 551 words.)