cover image Brooklyn Boy

Brooklyn Boy

Alan Lelchuk. McGraw-Hill Companies, $19.95 (298pp) ISBN 978-0-07-037163-7

Lyrical evocations of life in post-Depression Brooklyn no longer spring with fresh surprise. Nonetheless, Lelchuk (Miriam at Thirty-Four) begins this coming-of-age novel with considerable promise. In telling the story of Aaron Schlossberg, Lelchuck skillfully portrays the tensions between the old world and the new--the youngster's enthrallment with baseball, radio theatre and all things American vs. his father's ponderous, wildly dangerous Stalinism and world-weary bitterness. In a handful of set pieces in the middle of the book--about Aaron's beloved Dodgers--Lelchuk wrings new poetry from an old theme (Jackie Robinson is ``an intricate black orchid amidst a field of white''), but thereafter the book loses its passion, devolving into standard initiation rites--boy meets call girl, boy plays poker, boy gets drunk. In the end, the previously charming and precocious Aaron has lost interest in Brooklyn; the family dynamic--so delicately constructed--is forgotten. And, as if the author's interest, too, is flagging, the boy sets off to sea in a conclusion that is deeply dissatisfying. McGraw-Hill is publishing paperback editions of Lelchuk's Miriam at Thirty-Four and Miriam in Her Forties to coincide with the appearance of this novel. (Nov.)