FORTY-FOUR GRAVEL STREET by Ben Maddow

FORTY-FOUR GRAVEL STREET

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A soiled, and on occasion obscene, close-up of the unlovely lives at Forty-Four Gravel Street, as the desertion of Andersen's wife, Violet, leads him to this house. Among those there, under the control of their landlord -- a Dr. Christy who also exerts a certain perverse magnetism as an evangelist, are the Sudas, Nick and Esther, and Nick is to be the victim of a stroke which leaves him speechless, motionless; Anna, whose childlike mind and uncontrolled nonsuality is often focussed on the wax mannequin of a sailor she keeps in her room; Jamie, a youngster, whose father suicides; Virginia, an unwed mother- of twins no less; etc. etc. It is Andersen who takes Jamie to his friend Elizabeth Goldberg, a cripple, and in no doing forgets Violet (""grackling in the anguish of sex"") in the warmth and freedom of Elizabeth's emotion. Violet, he is to learn, has given all their money to Dr. Christy, and the anger against Christy fires them all with the desire to kill -- finally achieved by the witless Anna when she pushes him off a roof...A street scene which achieves its airless ascent from the vacuum of poverty and released sexuality without arousing any response -- unless it might be distaste.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1952
Publisher: Little, Brown