This is a wonderful book and a fun read! Leon has such a distinct voice and it feels so authentic, while at the same time having this quality of larger-than-life storytelling that made me think of the German term Seemannsgarn, or seaman’s yarn, meaning that sailors spin stories that might be a bit exaggerated. And his wife, Tamara, sounds like a fierce pioneer in her own right. What a great job preserving these stories of such an adventurous life! There are some amazing lines that just made me stop to let them sink in, and some historical aspects that were so interesting to see through his eyes. And of course I laughed a lot!
Dr. Joela Jacobs
Assistant Professor of German Studies
University of Arizona
LEON: A LIFE is really many lives packed into one freewheeling memoir: the irrepressible Leon Schneider as everything from a busboy and a construction worker to a merchant mariner and an actor—and always ready for another adventure. From running after nickels during the Depression to swimming away from U-Boats in World War II: it’s all here and all told in a rapid-fire patter that gives us the essence of the man.
Creative Writing Program Director
Montclair State University
Author of My Date with Neanderthal Woman
LEON: A LIFE springs from a labor of love: Ivan Schneider, Leon’s son, in collaboration with Tamara Schneider, Leon’s wife, faithfully recorded the wealth of rollicking memoirs recounted by the 97-year-old Leon. It did not require cajoling: Leon’s story bursts forth eagerly, with riveting humor, raunchy resilience and originality in the face of circumstances which might have easily defeated others. In addition, there is a nuanced implicit undercurrent of decrying the consequences of ethnic and economic discrimination. For the reader, the book is a treat, with much to admire and to enjoy.
Lora Heims Tessman
Author of The Analyst’s Analyst Within
and Children of Parting Parents