The Bookie's Son

Andrew Goldstein, Author
Andrew Goldstein. Sixoneseven Books (www.sixonesevenbooks.com), $14 trade paper (300p) ISBN 978-0-9848245-0-2
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Drawing from his own life, Goldstein's powerful debut follows the retrospective misadventures of 12-year-old Ricky Davis, the "thin, anemic" son of Pearl, an aging Bronx beauty who once dreamed of silver screen stardom, and Harry, a garment worker with a pernicious gambling habit. When Harry falls into debt with mobster Nathan Glucksman, he is conscripted as a goon with Ricky in tow. Befitting a Bronx-born Jew of the '60s, the son is no naïf: when Harry goes into hiding, Ricky assumes the role of full-time bookie, hoping to save his family. Meanwhile, Pearl—who works reading movie scripts—formulates a plan to rip off Elizabeth Taylor, one of her boss's clients. In addition to filling his father's shoes, Ricky must navigate the battlefields of adolescence—rife with wayward libido, pervasive dysfunction, frank racism, and an everyday desperation of the kind that prompts a mother to suggest casually to her pregnant daughter: "Let's go shoplift some clothes at Alexander's." Part urban YA Bildungsroman, part Portnoy's Complaint, this is not the subtlest of stories, but neither was the Bronx the subtlest of neighborhoods. (May)
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