photo by Nell Mednick

Mary-Lou Weisman’s most recent book is Al Jaffee’s Mad Life, (Harper Collins, 2010). She is a prize winning journalist and best-selling author. She began her writing career as a freelance writer and columnist, most notably for The Atlantic Monthly, the New Republic and The New York Times.

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Al Jaffee’s Mad Life

Now available in paperback!

Al Jaffee’s Mad Life (HarperCollins) is a biography of Al Jaffee, whose mad life began long before he became a celebrated writer/artist for MAD Magazine. A resume of Al’s formative years reads like a comic strip of traumatic cliff hangers, with cartoons by Jaffee and captions by Freud. Al was separated from his father, abandoned and abused by his mother, uprooted from his home in Savannah, Georgia, reared for six years in a Lithuanian shtetl, and returned to America – all by the time he was twelve years old. Jaffee has copiously illustrated the story of his mad childhood and his years at MAD.



interview, mary-lou weisman & al jaffee

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Al Jaffee’s Mad Life
Al Jaffee’s Mad Life

Mary-Lou and Al, photo by Judith Richland

Praise for Al Jaffee’s Mad Life:

Mary-Lou Weisman has written a captivating and discerning psychological study with restraint and heartbreaking clarity. The reader gains an almost palpable awareness of Jaffee’s memory unwinding, gaining depth and texture. With fine artistic control, Weisman has drawn a poignant portrait of the artist as a young man who survived his youth and surmounted its traumas with desperately ingenious art

~ Sybil Steinberg, former literary editor of Publishers Weekly

Jaffee’s story is a seamless collaboration of gifted writer and charismatic storyteller. Weisman carries Jaffee’s voice on her back so gracefully that the reader barely notices her presence. Al Jaffee’s Mad Life is a riveting, ridiculously beleaguered story of a child whose luck reversed itself so many times that going mad was a real possibility. Instead, Jaffee picked up a pencil and became a legend. What a hard road! What a generous book.

~ Phyllis Theroux’s most recent book is The Journal Keeper, a memoir

Jaffee’s story is a seamless collaboration of gifted writer and charismatic storyteller. Weisman carries Jaffee’s voice on her back so gracefully that the reader barely notices her presence. Al Jaffe’s Mad Life is a riveting, ridiculously beleaguered story of a child whose luck reversed itself so many times that going mad was a real possibility. Instead, Jaffee picked up a pencil and became a legend. What a hard road! What a generous book.

~ Phyllis Theroux's most recent book is The Journal Keeper, a memoir