"Bar Mitzvah Disco" (Crown, 2005) is part-coffeetable book, part-cultural relic, part-archive and wholly embarrassing.
Authors Roger Bennett, Jules Shell and Nick Kroll discovered in one long B.S. session that nothing quite engaged their friends, Jew and non-Jew alike, as a trip back down memory lane to the day of their or their friends' bar or bat mitzvah. They started a Web site where people could post photos and memories, www.barmitzvahdisco.com, and that Web site became this book. It was, the authors explain, "an opportunity to tell the story of a generation" -- and to embarrass people. Polyester suits, Farrah-bangs, tables of overfed relations, braces and acne -- did we mention the word embarrassing? Along with plenty of photos -- which are telling and even strangely brilliant divorced from the context of a bar mitzvah album -- there are funny and poignant contributions by, among others, David Kohan, Sarah Silverman, Jonathan Safran Foer and Gideon Yago.