Debut novelist Silber delivers a captivating downhill ride through the alleys and clubs of LA's 1948 bebop scene, crafting a fascinating antihero who will do just about anything to keep his fingers on the ivories. At first, Jewish musician Louis Greenberg seems downright courageous, using his charm and piano skills to earn a place in the black jazz clubs of Watts; he's even pursuing an impossible love affair with a beautiful black regular, Beatrice. But soon it becomes apparent that his outsider status is deserved: his day job is swindling war widows out of their money, using the memories of their departed husbands as bait. So certain are Greenberg's future heartaches-especially with Beatrice-and so profound is his love for jazz, it's hard not to root for him, even as he draws an especially vulnerable widow into his web. Though gripping, the narrative's pulp fiction overtones come across as more slapstick than hardboiled ("But here was this woman throwing me for more loops than a ride at Coney Island"), and his worshipful description of the music can be woefully shallow. (Oct.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Early Brightby Ami Silber, Zoe Archer
From the black jazz clubs on Central Avenue in Watts, to the tidy homes of the war widows he cons, Louis Greenberg lives life on the outside. No matter how charming and passionate he is, an outsider he will always be. He is white, a Jew, and that never goes away.
The year is 1948, the place is Los Angeles, and the name of the game is survival. Con man Louis Greenberg supplements his swindles with occasional gigs in underground jazz clubs as he tries to break into L.A.'s bebop scene. Hampered by a shady past and a desperate passion for a woman he can never openly acknowledge, Louis does everything he can to catch a break. However, as his cons grow more and more elaborate, the possibility of failure looms large. Jazz aficionados and historical fiction fans alike will relish Silber's exciting slice of Americana and will probably want to jot down the titles she cites in the Acknowledgments section for further reading and research. Readers who enjoy gritty, naturalistic fiction will also be pleased by the book, which pulls no punches in its examination of racism, patriotism, and capitalism in America. While not for the faint of heart, Silber's debut definitely stands out from the pack. Recommended for medium to large fiction collections.
Leigh Anne Vrabel
- Toby Press LLC, The
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.80(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.30(d)
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