Apple made his visit in 2001, shortly after Austria elected a right-wing extremist party that had played down Nazi atrocities. When he wants to ferret out anti-Semites, he walks through a city, first with a baseball cap labeled Austria to make potential sources comfortable, and then wearing a yarmulke, to see how they react. Feeling let down when the anti-Semitism he finds is more subtle than he expected, he confronts his own assumptions and prejudices. His romance with an Austrian woman, who has family links to the Nazis and participates in a no-racism group, overlaps and underscores the main story. Given to rumination, Apple worries that Irene's interest in him is a form of reparation for wrongs done to his people and that dark feelings linger beneath his attraction to her.
A 1998 U-M graduate who holds an M.F.A. in creative nonfiction from Columbia, Apple has a sense of humor about himself. He is unafraid of contradictions and complexity, and in this open and honest account of his adventures, he raises more questions than he tries to answer. Readers will meet the sheep, the shepherd's family, and, finally, the anti-Semites in this book, Apple's first. Ann Arborites can meet Apple and Breuer at Hillel on Monday, April 4, for a reading, signing, and, yes, a singing.
[Originally published in April, 2005.]