Straight Through the Night

Edward Allen, Author Soho Press $17.95 (270p) ISBN 978-0-939149-19-3
Self-consciously resonant with the heaven-storming lyricism of Thomas Wolfe, this first novel offers a graphic guided tour of the meat-packing and -selling industry from the down-and-out perspective of an ex-preppie, ex-student activist. Narrator Chuck Deckle, whose world view includes T. S. Eliot, Handel, Pink Floyd and various TV shows, is not really cut out to be a butcher. As we follow him on a string of jobs from lower Manhattan through Harlem and from Rockland and Westchester counties to a kosher plant in Hoboken, N.J., he reminisces about his girlfriends and boyhood, waxes lyrical on the sounds, sights and smells of New York, and sounds off on the sorry state of America. His slow descent into anti-Semitism is ugly. Allen, a former butcher and meat salesman who is also a poet and teacher at Ohio University, Athens, has a good ear for raunchy working-class vernacular, but he squanders his obvious literary talents on endless self-rumination, leaving little room for full-bodied characters to emerge. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
Paperback - 270 pages - 978-0-939149-36-0
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