Harry Kaplan's Adventures Underground

Steve Stern, Author Ticknor & Fields $19.95 (310p) ISBN 978-0-89919-724-1
Set in waterlogged Memphis during the great flood of 1939, this yeasty, vibrant novel spins an unusual variation on the Huck Finn theme. For 15-year-old Harry Kaplan, recently transplanted from Brooklyn to Memphis's teeming Jewish ghetto, working in his father's pawnshop is a bore. So bookish, comically awkward Harry hooks up with two orphaned black twins, wise-guy Lucifer and his tagalong mute brother Michael. In scenes of almost hallucinatory power, renegade Harry and the twins navigate flooded Beale Street, exploring brothels, cabarets, a wrecked steamboat and the stereotypes each culture harbors toward the other. When he's not hanging out with his ``forbidden friends,'' Harry copes with his well-heeled, shady Uncle Morris, cantankerous Grandpa Isador, and with his attraction toward his mousy cousin Naomi. In Harry, Stern ( Lazar Malkin Enters Heaven ) has found a rambunctious narrator who infuses this delightful, wry tale with moments of hilarity and a slew of apt Yiddishisms. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1991
Release date: 03/01/1991
Ebook - 310 pages - 978-1-4804-4053-1
Open Ebook - 225 pages - 978-1-937854-13-3
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