Unless you live in a cave, it’s hard to ignore the enormous success of this year’s breakout hit, “The Hunger Games.” Adapted from a novel by Suzanne Collins, the film has grossed over $300 million, with no sign of slowing down.
Well, great for them. I’m glad they’re all making so much money. Makes me wonder though, why the hell did every single publishing company pass on my novel of the same name nine years back?
That’s right. As part of my transition into manhood, I was required by my Hebrew school to complete a creative assignment based on my heritage. So, my 12-year-old self set out to write a novel. The end result: “The Hunger Games” by Jason Blackman, the story of one reformed Jewish family on what became a very solemn Yom Kippur.
My prodigious prose went wildly unnoticed, keeping me from ever writing a novel again. However, with a newfound sense of confidence and nothing left to lose, I’ve decided to update my story with more current references and re-release my work to the masses.
Here are a few excerpts from my novel, “The Hunger Games.”
“When I wake up, the other side of my bed is so cold! My fingers stretch out seeking Rebecca’s warmth, but find only the rough-knit blanket my grandma sent up from Florida a couple of years ago. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in bed with my mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of fasting.”
“Our part of Long Island, nicknamed Complainjew, is usually crawling with housewives in gym clothes heading out to one of many local bagel joints at this hour. Men and women with decent posture, and swollen knuckles, many of whom have long ago stopped playing Words With Friends for when they first got it they started a ridiculously overwhelming amount of games in which no human, no matter how much free time they have, can ever successfully partake.”
“But today, the nicely paved asphalt streets are empty. Shutters on split-level houses with beige vinyl siding are closed. The fasting isn’t until sundown. May as well DVR a ‘Chopped’ marathon. If you can.”
“The sun is about to set. Rebecca and I sit in the middle of a crowded junior congregation. This year Rebecca turned 12, which by our families’ standards is the first year she is expected to fast. It’s time for the drawing. Rabbi Steinstein says as he always does, ‘Ladies first!’ and crosses to a shoebox with a square cut out of the top. He takes out a small slip of paper. The person chosen must approach the front of our congregation and read a passage from the evening prayers.
“The crowd takes a deep breath. It’s so quiet you can hear a pin drop, and I’m feeling nauseous and so desperately hoping that it’s not me, that it’s not me, that it’s not me.”
“Rabbi Steinstein crosses back to the podium, smooths the slip of paper and reads out the name in a clear voice. And it’s not me.”
“It’s Rebecca Greenspan.”
“It’s three in the afternoon. There are only a few hours of the Hunger Games left. I leave my room in search of my family. My father and my sister sit in our den area, eyes fixed on ‘Man vs. Food’s’ Adam Richman as he comes one delectable bite closer to a heart attack.”
“Where’s Mom?” I ask. Then I head to the kitchen. My mother stands there with a bag of low-calorie probiotic induced yogurt.
“Mom, no!” I scream, “You’re almost there!”
“Eh, if I don’t eat something I’ll get a migraine. Just one bite.”
An ominous gong echoes through our home.
So, there you have it. Pretty good, right? If you like what you see, stay tuned for the sequel, “Catching Fire.” It’s the story of what happens when Rebecca’s denim skirt comes a little too close to an active Shabbat candle.