Natural Jewboy – subtitled ‘an epic wonder tale composed of stories, chants & rhapsodies, or an evening with the author’ – is a collection of prose and verse by William Levy published by Ins & Outs Press, Amsterdam in 1981. The German edition of the book was published in a translation by Werner Pieper (with the help of Sharon Levinson) the same year by Volksverlag, Linden.
William Levy (1939-2019) developed into a spearhead of the European underground soon after he had left the US in 1966. As chief-editor of the subversive European magazines International Times, The Fanatic and Suck, Levy soon found himself refused entry to England as a “thoroughly undesirable character” and a “dealer in pornography”. A journal of his five-day stay in a detention centre before being deported from Harwich is included in Natural Jewboy. It was first published in Oz magazine in 1970. Other chapters of Natural Jewboy also saw their first publication in European underground magazines, the most notorious being “Dupes of Passion”, a caustic piece on Burroughs’ ex-lover Ian Sommerville that happened to be published in The Fanatic in 1976 on the very day that Sommerville was killed in a car crash. Part of Natural Jewboy deals with the aftermath of this tragic coincidence, in which Levy was accused by several fellow-writers of “scripto-kinesis”: of having killed Sommerville with his words. Another chapter of Natural Jewboy describes Levy’s disappointing visit to the Universal Sufi Centre in Katwijk aan Zee. Yet another one – tellingly called “Greed in Neon” – is an account of Levy meeting Jerry Rubin.
Throughout the book Levy observes, takes apart and demystifies exponents of the counterculture that he himself helped shape and forms part of. Levy doesn’t mince words and spares no one, least of all himself. But there’s more to Natural Jewboy than these cool, ironic and elegant observations: every now and then chants flare up in the book, wild invocations, hot sexual fantasies and memories, which Levy describes candidly and in great detail. “History without gossip is a dry biscuit”, Levy explains and adds: “Natural Jewboy? And why Natural Jewboy? Because the Jews are a perpetual thorn in the Christian consciousness, hostile witnesses whose testimony is necessary to one half of the creed, and contradictory to the other. As it is said, He who bends his knee to nothing in this world, is called Jew. By their very nature, for Christ’s sake!”