The Ballad of West Tenth Street

Marjorie Kernan, Author . Harper Perennial $13.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-166917-0

Full of lower Manhattan’s eccentricities, this captivating debut peeks in on the family of a late rock icon, Ree Hollander, in its West 10th Street townhouse. His widow, Sadie, met the rocker after ditching college for a less conventional education in swinging London. A doting mother, Sadie is a “dedicated drinker,” whose thirst for vodka has grown since her eldest, Gretchen—the only child old enough to know Ree before he overdosed at 39—checked into a Connecticut mental institution for self-mutilation. The adolescents, Ondine and Hamish, eschew public school for lessons from their bohemian neighbors. Also afloat in this quirky sea are London-based Brian, Ree’s best friend and bandmate who’s lusted after Sadie since Ree’s death 12 years ago, and Cap’n Meat, a genteel bum and Vietnam vet who guards the children from less savory street characters. When a near-fatal motorcycle accident sends Sadie back to London, this unlikely circle tightens around the Hollander kids. Blending a local’s familiarity with a first-timer’s awe, Keenan’s portrait of Manhattan is vividly drawn, an insightful illustration of how a string of city blocks can feel like home. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 10/27/2008
Release date: 03/01/2009
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-06-197110-5
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 336 pages - 978-0-06-178497-2
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-06-178494-1
Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-06-178499-6
Show other formats
Discover what to read next