cover image The Open Door

The Open Door

Floyd Skloot. Story Line Press, $14.95 (230pp) ISBN 978-1-885266-48-4

How could Myron Adler, an industrious businessman, devoted son, faithful husband and loyal friend, be the same man who for years violently beat his two young sons? That's the question that obsesses the first half of this dour novel as it explores Myron's youth in Jewish New York of the 1920s and '30s and his marriage to bitter, disappointed would-be-socialite Faye Raskin. Skloot (Summer Blue; Pilgrim's Harbor) proceeds from the abuse to its consequences: the havoc that these beatings wreak on Myron's two boys. The novel's ostensible hero, Danny, grows up to become a successful, rather saintly architect who suffers from screaming nightmares; Richard turns into a pathologically insensitive salesman. Although the novel is somewhat enlivened by is carefully constructed historical setting (the mid-century Brooklyn of the Dodgers and the Brooklyn Bomber), it is essentially a story of child abuse, of the ways in which men and women come to violence and of the ways that children find to cope with that legacy. The themes are serious, but the characters, even the victims, are difficult to like, and the story is, unfortunately, a familiar one. (Sept.)