The Benny Kramer Novels: Fourth Street East, Last Respects, and Tiffany Street
The Benny Kramer Novels: Fourth Street East, Last Respects, and Tiffany Street0 0 5 Höfundur: Jerome Weidman
After making a splash with his first novel, I Can Get It for You Wholesale—published in 1937 and praised by the likes of Hemingway and Fitzgerald—Jerome Weidman had a long and prolific career as a fiction writer and playwright. In the 1970s he published three wise, funny, and nostalgic novels about the Lower East Side roots of a colorful character named Benny Kramer. For the first time, the trilogy is available in a single volume, with a foreword by Alistair Cooke.
Fourth Street East: When Benny Kramer’s father came to the United States, he was hungry, broke, and ignorant. Handed a banana and told it was “American food,” he scarfed it down, peel and all. By the time he died, he was no richer, but much wiser, and everything he learned he imparted to his son. Growing up on New York’s Lower East Side between the wars, Benny’s life was just as chaotic as his neighborhood. How many young boys have seen a man decapitated by a horse? How many know blacksmiths who got tangled up in a multiple homicide? How many win an elocution contest, only to find out it was rigged by the mob? For Benny, these are everyday events, remembered with biting wit and fond affection.
“This is all much more than noodle soup nostalgia—there’s humor, and stamina, and if middle age has rubbed off here and there, it has also lent a certain wisdom.” —Kirkus Reviews
Last Respects: For most of his life, Benny Kramer’s mother was an inescapable presence in his life. But on the day of her death, her body disappears on its way from hospital to morgue. While scouring New York in search of her body, Benny remembers the first adventure his mother sent him on, fifty years before. At the height of Prohibition, his mother gives him a simple task: deliver eighteen bottles of bootlegged hooch to a wedding. Along the way, the would-be rumrunner encounters sinister slumlords, a sadistic rabbi, and enough slapstick obstacles to give the Marx Brothers fits. Reliving each moment as he searches for his mother, Benny comes to understand that this is just another day in the life of a boy desperate to find his mother’s love.
“The last respects are paid with comic tumult and an acute compassion. Weidman at the apex.” —Kirkus Reviews
Tiffany Street: Though his trip from New York to Philadelphia is for business, Benny Kramer has also planned a rendezvous—not with a mistress, but with one of the city’s finest doctors. Kramer plans to enlist him in a noble purpose: keeping his son out of Vietnam. The doctor won’t provide this service to just anyone, but he and Benny have a mutual friend in the incomparable Sebastian Roon. Benny and Seb have been friends since the Depression, when they shared countless adventures across New York’s Lower East Side. Now Benny’s counting on that friendship to ensure the same life of endless possibilities for his son.
“Highly readable.” —Chicago Tribune
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