A LOVING PLACE by Mark Dintenfass
Kirkus Star


Email this review


Murray Farber is a 74-year-old Florida retiree, living in a geriatric comfort with wife Irene that's disturbed, massively, once a year, by the visit from the kids and grandkids up north. Dintenfass (The Case Against Org, Figure 8) isolates two days in Murray's life--these vacation-period days--and floods them with the cares, memories, regrets, sins, fears, and satisfactions of a basically solid man. For Murray used to be more than a mere mall-shopper, a poker player, a calmer-down for his yenta wife. Shopping one day, he runs across Blackie Feinstein, like Murray a refugee from Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Blackie remembers when Murray was ""the mayor of Montgomery Street""--a big shot, a local macher on a block, at a time when ""the buildings and stores and sidewalks were all solidly connected to the simple and permanent purposes of the old earth beneath them."" Murray owned Farber's Toys & Joys, on Nostrand Avenue; but before that he'd been a bookie and clubhouse politico whose dearest Depression-era dream was to somehow bring FDR to Montgomery Street (and who managed, impressively, to actually get Eleanor). The neighborhood's history, its temptations, are still a part of Murray--as he realizes re-encountering Blackie and also when his visiting son offers a (too theatrical) confession of marital indiscretion. Murray's own not snow-white past comes up for accounting. Dintenfass has been laboring, with only partial success, over his last few books to fold in this Montgomery Street material (one book was even titled that)--but now he's done it most effectively. By distancing it, putting it at the fangless remove of an old man in a warm place, the real rhythms of this life are allowed to beat unsentimentally. Empathetic, surprisingly un-treacly memory-fiction.

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 1986
Publisher: Morrow