Praying for Rain

Jerome Weidman, Author HarperCollins Publishers $18.95 (422p) ISBN 978-0-06-015658-9
Born in 1913 to Hungarian Jewish immigrant parents, Weidman grew up on New York's Lower East Side, working hard just to stay alive. At 17 he sold his first story; in his early 20s, he was contributing regularly to magazines when his novel I Can Get It for You Wholesale was published. His very different lives before and after this bestseller are encapsulated here, provoking thoughts of the Barmecide feast he mentions in an aside. There are recollections of family and neighbors of his childhood on East Fourth Street, fellow members of the Office of War Information during World War II, famous friends (Hammett and Hellman, Somerset Maugham, et al.), tributes to his wife Peggy and their children. The book closes with notes on Weidman's Pulitzer Prize musical, Fiorello!, leaving one wondering if anything has been neglected in this story of a born storyteller's life. He's not really like the folkloric Prince Barmecide, who invites the Schacabac to an imaginary feast. Rather, Weidman suggests a host telling his guests the party's over when they've barely tasted the rich, tempting dishes set before them. (September 24)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
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