Straitjacket and Tie: A Novel

Overview

Sixteen-year-old Bert Rosenbaum is living in the Bronx with his family when his brother, Philip, has his first psychotic breakdown. Philip communicates with extraterrestrials through radio stations only he can hear, discovers a homosexual plot to control the world, and burns Bert's cherished Dylan albums to protect him from evil subliminal messages. Haunted by the shadow of his brother's madness, Bert graduates from college, lands a job in the Department of Sewers, and settles into a small, dingy Manhattan ...
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1996 Softcover Repint Very Good 1 Copy Available (1-55583-358-6) Near Fine/Softcover with very light edgewear. Tight binding with clean unmarked internals. A solid copy.

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1996 Paperback Good Connecting readers with great books since 1972. Used books may not include companion materials, some shelf wear, may contain highlighting/notes, and may not ... include cd-rom or access codes. Customer service is our top priority! Read more Show Less

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Overview

Sixteen-year-old Bert Rosenbaum is living in the Bronx with his family when his brother, Philip, has his first psychotic breakdown. Philip communicates with extraterrestrials through radio stations only he can hear, discovers a homosexual plot to control the world, and burns Bert's cherished Dylan albums to protect him from evil subliminal messages. Haunted by the shadow of his brother's madness, Bert graduates from college, lands a job in the Department of Sewers, and settles into a small, dingy Manhattan apartment. Confused by his simultaneous attraction to a male coworker and a married woman, stuck in a job that bores him, and surrounded by an odd assortment of neighbors whose troubled lives affect his own, Bert becomes convinced he is following in his brother's footsteps. When three space aliens arrive, Bert's fears seem to be realized. At first menacing, though eventually claiming his friendship, the aliens provide a hilarious spoof on contemporary American culture. Yet whether they are real or imagined, through them Bert becomes ready to take control of his life, come to terms with his sexual identity, and embark upon his first serious relationship. In this poignant yet comic tour de force, Eugene Stein creates a phantasmagoric Manhattan, a city where craziness is manifested everywhere, and where alienation displaces family and community. Straitjacket & Tie is the bold and memorable introduction of Eugene Stein's expansive talents as a novelist.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Television writer Stein's first novel finds humor and pathos in challenging relationships as it explores various forms of alienation in 1980s New York. Bert Rosenbaum is 16 when his older brother Philip suffers the first of many psychotic breakdowns that will test the bonds of their close-knit Bronx family. Philip listens intently to the static between radio stations, decodes secret personal messages from rock albums and intermittently confines himself to bed as he cycles in and out of reality. After graduating from Princeton, Bert works in Manhattan for the sewer department and later pursues an MBA. Philip moves back and forth to California, but Bert finds still more insanity in his building: one neighbor screams dementedly through each night; the children in another apartment have befriended space aliens, who later contact Bert as well. Bert also grapples with his emerging bisexuality and ambiguous relations with friends and co-workers, while Star Trek reruns and Bob Dylan's music provide the cultural background noise. Stein's narrative is lively and his characters generally credible, but a lack of subtlety and overuse of tired pop-culture references dampen both the humor and the insight of this debut. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Bert Rosenbaum of the Bronx progresses from high school to Princeton to the Sewers Department to Columbia's MBA program. Born too late for the counterculture, Bert and his brother are committed Dylan fans who retain their parents' socialist ideals. Bert's gay awakening--in the era of Reagan, AIDS, and the rebirth, then horrible declension, of the Yankees--is remarkably well adjusted but not painless. His life unfolds in a series of subplots; the most interesting one, involving two very sexy characters, is resolved in a bitter twist barely halfway through the story. The book's comic poignancy is flawed only by a persistent space-visitor storyline whose cutesiness will be familiar to readers of Douglas Adams. Yet Stein redeems his apparently random employment of sf surrealism by connecting it to the book's true theme: the heartbreaking schizophrenia that afflicts Bert's older brother. Ultimately, this first novel is a successful meditation on resilience and family love. Recommended for public libraries.-- Scott H. Silverman, Bryn Mawr Coll. Lib., Pa.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555833589
  • Publisher: Alyson Publications
  • Publication date: 6/1/1996
  • Pages: 277
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.52 (h) x 0.65 (d)

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