Rare Stuff, a novel
Published August 1st, 2022

Rare Stuff, a literary novel set in the mid-1990s primarily in New York’s East Village, tells the story of Sidney Zimmerman, a slightly lost white-Jewish photographer working on an infinite series of portraits of interracial couples. After the sudden death of Sid’s father, the novelist /rare book librarian Aaron, Sid and her Black-Jewish Guadeloupean Melville scholar boyfriend André trace a series of wacky clues Aaron irritatingly left to lead them to the solution of the mysterious disappearance of Sid’s mother, a whale enthusiast named Dorothy, eighteen years earlier. Aaron also bequeathed them a manuscript sporting his wild ideas that his wife had been adopted by Yiddish speaking whales who try to save the planet. Aaron could not face her death so he constructed fiction. 


“Like the overstuffed suitcase that Sid Zimmerman finds of her dead father’s stashed-away arcana, Rare Stuff holds several things at once—an homage to Melville, a paean to New York City past and present, and, at the same time, a cri de coeur for preserving the natural life of our planet.” —David Wright Faladé, author of Black Cloud Rising, and Fire on the Beach: Recovering the Lost Story of Richard Etheridge and the Pea Island Lifesavers.


“In this richly imagined novel, Brett Ashley Kaplan skillfully and playfully moves between points of view, incorporating journal entries, novel excerpts, book reviews, and nuanced environmental commentary. Following a vivid cast of characters which includes a young photographer documenting interracial couples, a Guadeloupean Jewish Melville scholar, a disappeared amateur cetologist, and even Yiddish speaking whales, this inventive novel takes us on a wild adventure from the urban streets of New York’s East Village to the depths of the sea. Tender, confident and bold, Rare stuff brims with vitality.” Ayelet Tsabari, author of The Art of Leaving


“Rare Stuff is a beautiful, bewitching novel built on interlocking stories: a cosmopolitan photographer named Sid, grieving the death of her father, finds an unfinished manuscript and a suitcase full of clues about the long-ago disappearance of her mother. We follow Sid on a breathless search for her mother, and we dive deep into her father’s unfinished adventure tale, in which Yiddish-speaking whales and a bold teenage girl set out to save the world. By the book’s close, I had become friends with its characters: I wanted to jump into fast-paced conversations about life and literature with Sid, Andre, Dorothy, Aaron, and Sol, and I wanted to take part in the extraordinary multi-generational (and multi-species) community they built together.  Rare Stuff tells the story of the very best adventure: the quest we all undertake to understand and care for our parents, our children, and the world we share together.” Jamie L. Jones, author of Rendered Obsolete: The Afterlife of U.S. Whaling in the Petroleum Age