OIOTS FIRST by Bernard Calamud


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Collection of city people, most in shirt sleeves, scurry about in various small but authentic frenzies in this lively group of short stories. Among the miserable are -- a grocery store owner who sees his establishment slowly drained of business and expire; a liquor store owner in Harlem, who has always wanted to be accepted by his neighborhood and who runs up against race hostility when he attempts to marry a lovely Negro girl; a cleaning store owner who tries to mediate the feud between his presser and his tailor and dies in peacemaking; a frozen food salesman who carries out a one-man program against a talking crow named Schwartz. Tainted outh is represented by one Mary Lou who makes sleepless the nights of her college teacher; and the young artist Fidelman who has a startling amorous adventure in the story and an escape from latrine cleaning in a brothel and a painting theft in another. The most effective piece is the title story -- a wild venture into a aunted, senile mind in which a fear-ridden grandfather attempts to put an idiot grandson on a train to California. A bit of everything here -- from little tragedies to ""sick"" hilarity, as in the adventures of the buccaneer, Fidelman. Offbeat, but highly readable, sometimes highly effective.

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 1963
Publisher: Farrar, Straus