About the Book:
- Paperback: 248 pages
- Publisher: (sixoneseven) books (May 1, 2012)
In 1960, as a way to pay off some of his debt, the bookie, Harry Davis, starts collecting loan payments for the Bronx gangster, Nathan Glucksman. Making his rounds, Harry visits a sweet tailor named Morris, who is a survivor of the Holocaust. Whether out of pity, or because Harry was one of the liberators of the camps during World War II, or because he is prone to rash decisions, instead of collecting from Morris he gives him some of Nathan’s money so that he can move to Israel. Nathan’s henchmen, the Spratz brothers, come looking for Harry, who is forced to escape and leave his bookie business in the hands of his twelve-year-old son, Ricky, and his almost deaf and nearly blind mother-in-law, Rosie.
The Spratz brothers ransack the apartment and threaten not only to harm to Harry, but also Ricky’s mother, Pearl. Ricky, who is his mother’s confidant and emotional crutch, takes it on himself to raise the money and rescue his family. He dreams of being the hero. Like the rest of the Davis family—the best family in the Bronx—he believes he is an extraordinary person trapped in an ordinary life.
He embarks on a series of failed attempts to obtain money, which he needs to bet on a fixed horse race. He ends up stealing cash from his father’s drawer—money that his father was saving to make a payment to Nathan—and then rides in a stolen car to Aqueduct to place his bet.
Meanwhile, other members of the family, in their own shady ways, are trying to acquire cash so they can appease Nathan. Harry is working on smuggling tax free cigarettes from North Carolina and Pearl is planning to embezzle money from Elizabeth Taylor, a client of her boss.
Each member of the family is broken and needs fixing. Though they are all unscrupulous, they are filled with love and loyalty. Fast paced, engrossing and full of heart, The Bookie’s Son paints a picture of a family forced to decide just how much they’re willing to sacrifice for each other––and at what cost.
About the Author:
In my early twenties I was selected as a Bread Loaf Fellow and had my nonfiction book, Becoming:An American Odyssey published by Saturday Review Press. However, in order to make a living while writing I worked at many diverse jobs: tree planter and assistant librarian in Oregon, organic orange and olive farmer in California, school bus driver, Zamboni driver, editor, stock broker, power transformer tube winder and tennis pro in the Berkshires, and custom builder in the Boston area. I’m slowly transitioning out of construction and becoming a full-time writer. I play competitive table tennis three times a week, mentor a ten-year old boy every other week, and take care of my grandson one day a week. He fills that day with joy.
I grew up in a world that no longer exists: The Bronx 1947-1960. The Bookie’s Son, based on my childhood, was the story I wanted to tell. I have been writing The Bookie’s Son on and off for forty years.
This delightful (?) book is told through the eyes of young Ricky Davis - the son of small time bookie and big time dreamer Harry. His mother Pearl works for an entertainment lawyer in New York city and she yearns for so much more from life. They live in the Bronx - a Bronx that is deteriorating around them. Harry is always working on the next big deal but nothing ever comes through; in fact he is currently so far in debt to the local gangster Nathan that the enforcers have been threatening Ricky. Nathan is in love with Pearl and will cancel the debt for one night with her - but Pearl won't cheat on Harry and Nathan is a pig. Ricky thinks he needs to save his family but all of his ideas only raise small amounts of money and/or lead to him getting beat up.
This book is pitch perfect in character, time period and dialog. In spite of some cringe worthy passages I didn't want to leave Ricky and his truly crazy life. It was like stepping into a black and white movie from my childhood and I could hear those New York accents from home. Poor Ricky finds himself in some highly inappropriate situations but that is where the lessons occur. His mother over-shares, his father is always looking for the next big money making opportunity and rationalizing actions is a way of life. Mr. Goldstein knows how to create mood and set tone and I'd love to see what happens to Ricky next.
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Disclosure: I received a copy of The Bookie's Son gratis from TLC Book Tours. Any opinions expressed are my honest opinions and were not impacted by my receipt of the free book. I received no monetary compensation for this post.