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The Open Door

The Open Door

by Floyd Skloot

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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.)
Kirkus Reviews
A third novel from the author of, most recently, Pilgrim's Harbor (1992) traces the travails of a dysfunctional Jewish family from the 1930s through the mid-70s.

Myron Adler and Faye Raskin are a terribly mismatched couple. He's the crude, vulgar owner of a live poultry market, suffering the aftereffects of his parents' refusal to let him marry a Catholic. She's a would-be artist on the rebound from a series of relationships with men she considered worthy of her pretensions. Such a union could only have disastrous results—and it does. Unwilling to take out his frustrations on his wife, Myron belts his sons, Richard and Daniel, regularly. Equally frustrated by her status in life, Faye does likewise. Richard grows up to be a self-absorbed compulsive overeater who feels cheated by the world. Daniel, by contrast, is perfection itself, a terrific athlete and excellent student who becomes a successful architect and loving father. Skloot recounts this tale in an apparent profusion of voices, a dense thicket of points of view made problematical by his inability to differentiate among them. Everything comes out in tedious faux Brooklyn Jewish dialect seemingly out of sitcom-land. And his people are astonishingly crude stereotypes that only a Roth or Bellow could breathe life into. While Skloot makes some effort to mitigate the parents' behavior, the book breaks down into a highly schematic (and unconvincing) set of heroes and villains. A final transformation of Faye from ogress to lovable, wacky older temptress is particularly embarrassing.

Filled with sloppy writing and a transparently manipulated cast—and further burdened by cartoonish violence that seems to exist only to give a cheap jolt of energy to an otherwise lifeless story.

Product Details

Story Line Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.98(w) x 8.96(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author

After an attack of viral-induced brain damage -- "overnight, I was geezered," he recalls -- author Floyd Skloot persevered in his writing. His account of the ordeal, In the Shadow of Memory, was selected as a Summer 2003 pick in our Discover Great New Writers program.

Brief Biography

Amity, Oregon
Date of Birth:
July 6, 1947
Place of Birth:
Brooklyn, New York
B.A., Franklin & Marshall College, 1969; M.A., Southern Illinois University, 1971

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