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February 15, 1991 - Image 61

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-02-15

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Of Sex, Shopping And
The Champagne Of Authorship

Writer Judith Krantz, who has just published her sixth novel,
relishes her Jewish heritage, not to mention the fun of
creating "bad" fictional characters.


- Special to The Jewish News

ourteen years ago
when bell bottoms
and mood rings were
still in vogue, Judith
Krantz went from
writing in fashion magazines
to becoming a fashionable
writer. Now she has produced
Dazzle, her sixth novel, and at
62 is already planning to
begin work on her seventh.
Writing books about
powerful, lusty, cunning
women and the men who
must have them wasn't what
Ms. Krantz had in mind
growing up on Central Park
West, where her earliest
Jewish memories were not of
fashion but of food.
One July her father took
her to the Lower East Side's
Mott Street to show her his
old neighborhood — but
what she most remembers is
the pickle vendor and
tasting her first kosher dill.
"I love to eat, smell and
bask in Jewish food," Ms.
Krantz confessed in an
interview at San Francisco's
Square One Restaurant, on a
tour for her publisher,
Crown, to promote Dazzle. "I
couldn't care less about stuff
like this," she said, gestur-
ing indifferently toward an
extensive apple-something
dessert in front of her.
Wrapped in an oversized
fur coat, her lightly frosted
blonde hair swept up, and
wearing a thick gold bangle
engraved with the word
"Scruples" (the name of her
first book), the diminutive,
96-pound writer clearly was
enjoying this tour. After all,
it wasn't as if the book's


Sue Barnett is a writer on the
staff of the Northern Califor-
nia Jewish Bulletin.

success would determine her
Already she is one of the
best-selling novelists of all
time. All of her previous
novels have been turned into
television mini-series. She
has faithful readers in at
least 31 countries, including
Japan, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia
and Israel.
In Dazzle, 29-year-old
heroine Jazz Kilkullen is a
famous celebrity photogra-
pher in Venice, Calif., whose
"life is deliciously com-
plicated by the men who are
in love with her," according
to the book jacket. It may be
one of Ms. Krantz's most
sexually explicit novels.
"Everyone says I write
about sex and shopping," the
author protested, "but only
to the extent that my

harder since Scruples. "It's
like champagne," she said of
writing. When the bottle is
first opened, it overflows.
Scruples was "the foam on
that champagne." Now
"every book is like pouring a
little more out of the bottle."
After finishing Scruples in
1977, she followed with
Princess Daisy (Bantam
Books purchased reprint

She is one of the
novelists of all
time. All of her
previous novels
have been turned
into television
mini-series. She
has faithful
readers in at least
31 countries,

characters engage in those
While all of her novels
have a heroine, she makes
sure each is imperfect. In
fact, if she could, she'd write
more characters who were
inherently rotten.
"It's so easy to write bad
people. I adore, I love to
write terrible bitches," Ms.
Krantz said.
Calling what she does
"incredible fun," Ms. Krantz
also admitted it's gotten

Judith Krantz:
Author of Dazzle.

rights for a record $3.2 mill-
ion), Mistral's Daughter, I'll
-Take Manhattan and Till We
Meet Again.
The protagonist in each of
her books is a heroine —
"always a working woman."
In Mistral's Daughter it was
Maggie Lumel, whom she
described as a "Jewish il-
legitimate orphan." Lumel
was the name of a Jewish

community in southern
France in the early 1400s.
Ms. Krantz considers the
book, which tells about 2,000
years of French Jewry,
French anti-Semitism, and
the French collaboration
with the Nazis during World
War II, to be one of her most
important works.
Mistral's Daughter, in fact,
turned out to be her -best-
selling novel in France.
"The French were ready to
read it and I was doing
something that needed to be
done," Ms. Krantz said.
Though most of her
characters could best be de-
scribed as WASP-ish, Ms.
Krantz identifies strongly as
a Jew. In . fact, she still sees
herself as a "New York
Jew," although she has lived
in Los Angeles since 1971
with her husband of 36
years, Steve Krantz, who
has produced four of the
mini-series based on her
books (and in 1971 made the
animated, X-rated Fritz the
Ms. Krantz's mother, a
Legal Aid Society lawyer
from Lithuania, and father,
an advertising man and
"early feminist," were not
observant but frequently at-
tended meetings on behalf of
the Federation of Jewish
Philanthropies, HIAS and
the budding state of Israel.
Ms. Krantz painted a pic-
ture of her parents as
"ambitious, education-
minded young Jews turning
away from the tradition of il-
literacy and poverty."
Now, Ms.' Krantz, the
mother of two grown sons —
one of whom celebrated his
bar mitzvah at age 29 — said
Judaism goes throughout
her life "like a strand. Who
you are, how you react —
you don't have to be re-
ligious to feel Jewish. It's
cultural to me." ❑



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