Michael Lavigne was born in Newark, New Jersey. He began seriously writing fiction only at midlife and was a participant of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. Not Me is his first novel, and he is currently working on his second, set in Moscow, where he once lived. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, Gayle.
Michael Rosenheim, a stand-up comedian, is visiting his father in a Florida nursing home when the elderly man presents his son with a 24-volume set of journals. Heshel Rosenheim, a concentration camp survivor, has lived an exemplary life, contributing money and time to Jewish charities and causes throughout the country and world. However, the journals reveal that Heshel was formerly Heinrich Mueller, a Nazi lieutenant in a concentration camp! The story of Heshel's/Heinrich's war years is captivating; equally well told is the present-day plot in which Michael comes to terms with his father's secret past and impending death, the death of his teenage sister when he was 20, his divorce, and his relationship with his own young son. First novelist Lavigne deals with the nature of memory realistically, as reading the journal helps Michael recall details long forgotten or blocked from his mind. Highly recommended for all collections.-Sarah Conrad Weisman, Elmira Coll. Lib., NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Buried beneath ill-advised metaphors (a revelatory journal "was glued to my fingers, like when you touch something really cold, like an ice cube or a metal pole...") and a clunky structure is a provocative debut novel that might have said something profound about growing up in the home of Holocaust survivors. Michael Rosenheim, a divorced stand-up comic, is caring for his Alzheimer's-afflicted father when he discovers 24 volumes of his father's journals. In them, Heshel Rosenheim has detailed (in the form of a novel) that he is not a concentration camp survivor, but a former Nazi accountant at Bergen-Belsen who has posed as a Jew since the end of WWII. The novel flips back and forth between Heshel's story and Michael's attempts to prove it real; Lavigne mixes in subplots about Michael's relationship with his son, his pining for his ex-wife, and his sister's slow, painful death from cancer. The diary sections hold the most sway, and the novel would have been better served had Lavigne kept the present-day story as little more than a frame surrounding the account of how one man transformed himself from SS officer to pillar of the New Jersey Jewish community. Lavigne's book has tremendous potential for drama, but it avoids telling the story at its heart. Agent, Michael Carlisle. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Advance praise for Not Me"What a daring, even dangerous, act of the imagination this novel is! Not Me challenges one emotionally and intellectually. It's that rare phenomenon: a philosophical thriller that will draw you in and leave you arguing furiously with yourself after you're done."-Ron Rosenbaum, author of Explaining Hitler "A novel with a powerfully unsettling moral conundrum at its heart: Is radical evil indelible; can anything undo it? But what philosophy cannot resolve, storytelling triumphantly can. Lavigne's radiantly imagined portrait of human possibility never obscures the blackest abyss of real history, and his Heshel Rosenheim emerges with all the complexity of a modern Raskolnikov."-Cynthia Ozick, author of Heir to the Glimmering World"Michael Lavigne has an immensely powerful story to tell of guilt and redemption. Beyond its riveting plot, Not Me is a novel about the loss and recovery of love. In this sense it reminded me of Dickens's Great Expectations: Heshel Rosenheim is as mysterious and haunting as Magwitch, and the lesson that his uncanny life imparts to his son, and to Lavigne's readers, is on a grand human scale, and unforgettable."-Jonathan Wilson, author of A Palestine Affair "Family secrets, awful historical truths, the nature of good and evil, and the bond between a son and his father are woven seamlessly into a page-turning plot. Michael Lavigne writes with generosity of heart and he leaves the reader with an abundance of hope. Not Me is a powerful debut novel."-Binnie Kirshenbaum, author of An Almost Perfect Moment "A disturbing yet surprisingly tender read that grips the reader from page 1 and never lets go. Michael Lavigne tells his intriguing story with intelligence, sensitivity, and flashes of scintillating wit. What more could you ask from a novel?"-Aaron Hamburger, author of Faith for Beginners