When he was 33, Harvard alumnus Alson was busted for bookmaking. His memoir is a diverting answer to the proverbial question: ``What's a nice boy like you doing in a place like this?'' Alson (a nephew of Norman Mailer's) was full of literary promise; his early Harvard stories were critically applauded. Later he spends a summer on the Cape trying to crank out a first novel. But he has writer's block. Unable to write, going nowhere in the relationship with his lover, Anna, and running out of money, Alson accepts a job offer from Michael, the son of a friend, who is making big bucks as a bookie and who is himself an alumnus of Brown. On Manhattan's St. Mark's Place, in a tenement apartment filled with cigarette butts and leftover takeout food, Alson enters the underworld. He learns about the odds, the ``line,'' the ``vigorish,'' the ``juice.'' He spends his days writing thousands of dollars in bets; he is surrounded by wads of cash and touched by greed. Slowly, he bonds with his screwed-up fellows in crime, the ``boys at the office'': Bob, the Monkey, Steak Knife, Pat, Bernie, Eddie, Spanky. Even as he battles guilt and fear, he begins to bring new bettors to the business and begins to make money; he becomes one of the boys. He teaches Bob about Anna Karenina and seeks wisdom from ``frog-throated'' Monkey. From Morrie Krause (whose apartment the bookies rent), an unwashed man who makes periodic entrances like Seinfeld's Kramer, he accepts a friendly Christmas gift, a videotape called Anal Agony. When finally the police smash through the office door, Alson goes to jail and, hour by hour, describes why doing time for even a night is enough to bring him back to his writing. As they say around Alphabet City, it takes what it takes. A good story, simply told and often affecting. (Author tour)

Pub Date: March 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-517-70330-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1995

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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