NEW YORK STREET GAMES And Other Stories and Sketches by Meyer Liben

NEW YORK STREET GAMES And Other Stories and Sketches

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Liben, who died in 1975, was a writer who in style and association resembled his friend Paul Goodman: New York-focused, given to shorter forms, interested in the odd fragments of socio-political significance thrown off by the plainest, most everyday urban activities. New York Street Games is a suite of sketches on exactly that sort of activity: those ritualized yet highly improvisatory collectives in which city children used to participate with great zest and solemnity. (E.g., Johnny on the Pony, King of the Hill, May I?, Pitching Pennies, Hopping, ""It,"" and Chinese Handball.) All these games were physically tailored to urban architecture--and involved an unthreatening set of communality that glows under Liben's unsentimental memory, with lively analysis of their procedures. However, even better than these slight, rather dated sketches (laced with asides about Marxism, power, and psychology) are Liben's fuller-textured stories, collected in the second half of this book. Sometimes merely a meditation on a dream or a quote or a business event or deal (Liben was a businessman/writer), they have both an anecdotal purity and a raucous energy that are very appealing--while managing to avoid portentousness. (Goodman's fiction, equally ragged and bristly, frequently fell into that trap.) Including some stories from a previous, 1967 collection: a valuable compilation by a writer with a special niche largely his own.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1983
Publisher: Schocken