SKYLINE by David Scott Milton


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As in Paradise Road and Kabbalah, Milton again brings little that's fresh or distinctive to a slice of formula fiction, and this time the formula is especially stale: two ethnic N.Y. families through the decades, complete with feuds, coincidences, and cameo appearances by historical figures. Mike Roth (Jewish) and Tony McGrath (Irish) are teenage neighbors in the 1920s on the Lower East Side, members of competing street gangs. Their inevitable rivalry, juiced along by a creepy, vicious kid named Jack Foster, really gets going when Mike falls for Tony's strange sister Rose Ann: she has a breakdown, is murdered; Tony blames Mike. And though Mike would like to be an architect, his gangster-brother's problems (cameos by Bugsy Siegel et al.) force him to become a boxer--so he winds up in the ring with none other than Tony McGrath, taking away Tony's world-heavyweight-champion title. Over the years, then, Tony will continue to hate Mike vehemently--even as their paths diverge. Tony has a doomed affair, marries for convenience, and goes into politics, giving his all for N.Y.C.'s Bill O'Dwyer. Mike is hired as an idea-man/bodyguard by Hollywood's L. B. Mayer (seen here as a sick-o monster), falls for a career-obsessed actress (who sleeps with gangster Siegel), and becomes the partner of television inventor/pioneer ""Dubois""--a rocky but triumphant (at the World's Fair) alliance. Then: wartime brings Mike a new wife and another slew of clumsy cameos (""Bob Capa. I'm with Life magazine. Want a lift to Paris?""). . . while Tony is disillusioned by the O'Dwyer scandals. And finally, after Mike runs through the usual middle-age agenda (generation-gap troubles, a mistress), the two old enemies are creakily brought together by a big business deal--so there's a ritual rematch at the fadeout: ""And now the years melted away. They were twenty-five again. . . slamming at each other, punching away with all their strength, the anger of years."" Polyester prose, third-hand plotting, and just-passable renditions of familiar backgrounds (the Jewish-gangster scene in particular has been done much better elsewhere): only for readers with an insatiable appetite for family-sagas or a special interest in period prizefighting.

Pub Date: Sept. 14th, 1982
Publisher: Putnam