THE WINE AND THE MUSIC by David A. Kaufelt


Email this review


An old-timey, Twenties-to-Forties, immigrant-family gumball, featuring the Meyers--three dazzling brothers and that red-hot knish, sister Bessie. Kaufelt (Late Bloomer) starts out with a vamp-till-ready section having to do with Bessie's Polish/Jewish infancy in the old country and childhood in Manhattan. But the real action begins when red-headed Bessie (who calls everybody ""Fat Boy"") hits the boards of the Yiddish theater, soon hooking up for good with young racket-king Ryan--a grad of Hell's Kitchen, Yale, and Columbia Law. (Boola-boola, bang-bang, and Lordy, how they can love, etc.) Then, however, a trio with earlocks is shipped from Poland--Bessie's brothers Max, Jake, and Nick--and before you can say snip, snip, they're on their way to the big time: Max will become silent-screen cowboy star Ram Page (and later a famed director); Jake, bootleg-ferrying in Florida for Ryan, will settle down into real estate; Nick, Ryan's sharpest operator, eventually will go on his own--with fatal results. Throughout, the brothers Meyer are irresistible to women, of course: Nick, with his ""high romantic cheekbones,"" has life-long lover Kay in the sack when he's an experienced 16; Jake, after an unlucky marriage with Bessie holding the shotgun, lives with sweet mulatto Nancy (who dies during a Ryan-managed caper) and tangles with a rich WASP (she's conveniently swept away by a 1939 hurricane); Max is married to bombshell actress Araby but loves Japanese Mitsuko. There are also children here and there. And it all ends with Bessie making a speech (she's introduced by Mrs. FDR) in front of the housing project named for her--before she acquiesces in a revenge scheme for Ryan's death. Salable hooey, but too obviously artificial to grab the full Howard Fast/Belva Plain audience.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1981
Publisher: Delacorte