Josh Alan Friedman, Author . Feral House $12.95 (133p) ISBN 978-1-932595-07-9

In 1986, Friedman published Tales of Times Square , the grittiest, most perceptive look yet at the Deuce when it was run by desperadoes, not Disney. This grab bag of essays, some reprinted (from Hustler , Screw , etc.), some new, shares much with Friedman's earlier book, notably an emphasis on sleaze (and on the humanity of those who traffic in it), but it lacks the earlier book's cohesion and shock value. Four of the older entries, grouped as "Times Square Sketches," read like outtakes from Tales ; best is Friedman's brief, haunting portrait of stripper Maria Krupa, daughter of jazz drummer Gene, who died of a heroin overdose. Some of the other older entries, though written with pizzazz, are dated, for instance "An Iceberg Slim Appreciation," written 10 years ago but about an author who's been celebrated for decades. Two new pieces stand out. "The Strikeout King" brings readers vividly back to the oversexed Manhattan nightclubs of the mid-'80s and pits an editor who can't get a date against a lothario who sleeps with almost every woman he meets. And "The Rise and Fall of Al Goldstein"—the collection's most memorable entry—traces with empathy and amazement the arc of the infamous pornographer, for whom Friedman once worked. The book closes with three Texas-set pieces—unnecessary filler in a volume that, while no career capstone, will interest Friedman's (and the old Times Square's) admirers. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 01/24/2005
Release date: 10/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
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