Debut novel explores interfaith dating &mdash and takes heat

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First-time novelist Melissa Schorr has joined a pantheon of literary lights such as Mark Twain, Henry Miller and Salman Rushdie that would make any fledgling artist jealous.

Schorr’s debut novel, “Goy Crazy,” was deemed offensive.

The book’s title was the reason her hometown bookstore of Riverdale, N.Y., an upscale section of the Bronx, didn’t host her inaugural book-signing. Furthermore, when Schorr applied for a trademark in order to market T-shirts bearing the book’s title, she was rejected, with the stated reasons being the title was “scandalous” and “offensive to a majority of the population.”

Well. What’s a nice Jewish girl looking to explore interfaith relationships among young adults to do? For starters, get Disney to publish the book. And then have the famous Katz’s Deli in Manhattan host the reception with the “GoyCrazy” sandwich-of-honor being pastrami on white bread with extra mayo.

Those people with delicate gastronomical sensibilities can relax. “It really wasn’t meant to be eaten,” said Schorr during a recent phone interview. She’ll be in San Francisco on Wednesday, Dec. 13 for a reading at Books Inc.

The New York native, who now lives in Boston after a stint in the Bay Area (where she worked as a journalist at the Oakland Tribune), tackled an issue that, despite its whimsical title, addresses some poignant issues. In her novel, a high school student named Rachel Lowenstein develops a huge crush on classmate Luke Christiansen, a jut-jawed, blue-eyed, flaxen-haired athlete who knows just what to do when he’s underneath an engine’s hood. And he has no mother issues.

Guess what? He’s not Jewish. Yes, in the terrible terrain of teen testosterone, the studs are very rarely named Stein.

Schorr concedes that there were some similarities to her formative years. She dated many non-Jewish men throughout high school and college. Although the Bronx High School of Science had a large pool of eligible teenage Jewish men, Schorr always gravitated toward the goys … um, “non-Jews.”

The same was true in college at Northwestern, although it became much easier to date a non-Jew, because there were “Luke Christiansens” everywhere one looked.

“Personally, although my family had a very hard time with it, I think it’s OK for teenagers to experiment with people from other backgrounds. I think most teens today are aware that they’re not going to marry the person they started dating in high school. I guess it’s scary for the parents and grandparents of today’s teens because they do remember the time when you married your high school sweetheart.”

Ironically enough, the impetus for the article came from a response Schorr wrote for GQ magazine, where she was a staff member. A non-Jewish woman named Meghan Daum had written an ode to what “great catches” Jewish men were. Schorr’s response extolled the virtues of catching a fox while holding the lox.

Schorr writes of her carnal appreciation for the “goy toys” who don’t “shvitz in the steam bath but sweat in the weight room.”

But if Luke-lust was enough to bust a bubbe’s britches, there was a silver lining. Schorr married a guy that looked like a Teutonic icon, was athletic, and presumably could change a tire if he had to.

And he’s Jewish.

“Well, you go through dating cycles … the ‘bad boy,’ the ‘nice guy’ and all of that,” Schorr said. “We have a 1-year-old daughter now, so I have to think of how I’m going to address the issue with her.

“The good news is that I have 12 years to figure it out.”

Melissa Schorr will be reading from “Goy Crazy” 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 13 at Books Inc., in San Francisco’s Opera Plaza. Call (415) 776-1111 for more information.