Early Bright

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"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." "It is 1948. An impulsive, irrevocable decision has led to Louis' permanent exile from his family back in New York. Six years later, his father's disappointment still haunts him. Living a fractured, confusing life in Los Angeles, Louis moves between worlds. By day he is a c-man,
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2008 Hardcover Brand new books, maps and cd's available immediately from a reputable and well rated UK bookseller; despatched promptly and reliably worldwide. *****PLEASE NOTE: ... This item is shipping from an authorized seller in Europe. In the event that a return is necessary, you will be able to return your item within the US. To learn more about our European sellers and policies see the BookQuest FAQ section***** Read more Show Less

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Overview

"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." "It is 1948. An impulsive, irrevocable decision has led to Louis' permanent exile from his family back in New York. Six years later, his father's disappointment still haunts him. Living a fractured, confusing life in Los Angeles, Louis moves between worlds. By day he is a c-man, artfully conning the relatives of men killed in action in World War II out of their cash, preying upon their memories and pain. By night he enters the only world where he is truly alive. In the all-black underground clubs of L.A. he nurtures his passion for bebop, listening to and playing cutting-edge jazz. Here he is still an outsider, but he has won acceptance - to a point. Here, he meets the woman he loves, but can never truly have, in the segregated world of the forties." As Louis navigates the treacherous waters of jazz and women, passion and cynicism, he will try for one big con to put his troubled life to rights - but the many dissonant threads of past and present will come together, ensnaring him in a web of his own making.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

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.)

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Library Journal

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

Kirkus Reviews
In 1948 Los Angeles, a white grifter haunts black jazz clubs and dreams of bebop fame. Louis Greenberg is a New Yorker by birth, but after a scandal involving his fitness for wartime military service-an imposture easily guessed but not divulged until book's end-he flees west, landing in freewheeling Los Angeles, where he sets up as a con man/lothario who uses his looks and smooth manners to separate lonely war widows from their cash. By night he's a gifted and ambitious pianist, albeit one who can barely find a gig in the hardscrabble, mostly black world of underground clubs. An outsider himself as a Jew, Louis is most comfortable in this scene, where he befriends fellow jazzmen and meets and falls for the beautiful Beatrice-but their love is first consigned to the shadows and then doomed by the wider world's prejudices. To try to win Beatrice back, Louis undertakes a con unlike any he's attempted before. Despite numerous minor anachronisms and a period patter whose swing and color derive less from the needs of human conversation and more from the need to make use of authorial research, Silber mostly makes Louis's first-person voice work. The prose is fast-paced and clever, and Louis's ruminations about the con can be impressive. But his sexual-conquistador rap palls ("after who knows how many hours of uninterrupted sex, when it's a pretty sure bet that all your bodily fluids have taken an express train to the sheets"), as does the trick of granting the con man an unassailable moral authority based on his racial politics. A middling debut novel, but Silber shows much promise. Agent: Kevan Lyon/Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592642410
  • Publisher: Toby Press LLC, The
  • Publication date: 10/1/2008
  • Pages: 350
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.30 (d)

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