A lithe, lyrical collection that packs more than a few punches.


Tales From The Sidewalks Of New York

In 13 short stories based on real life, Ross (Nine...Ten...and Out! The Two Worlds of Emile Griffith, 2008, etc.) mines the memories of his life to create memorable characters struggling to survive against unfavorable odds.

To Ross, the boxing ring and its “gallant performers” have always seemed “to be a microcosm of life.” In “The Journeyman,” Ross’ opening story, the author portrays the weary existence of a seasoned prizefighter named Billy Dumas, aka “The King of Plain.” A “Model-T in a world of Corvettes and Porsches,” Billy’s been beaten so badly he develops what appears to be dementia—and a tragic belief in his own ability. The succeeding trio of tales revolves around the street-wise, Brooklyn adolescence of future Jewish prizefighter Al “Boomy” Davidoff and a gang of miscreants, such as Brownsville bully Billy Belch and “soda bottle-cap legend” Bitsy Beckerman, who act as if they’re on “the farm team of Murder, Inc.” “The Cashayfelope Man,” about the mystery surrounding a foreign-born ragpicker, takes place around the desperate time of what 6-year-old protagonist Dovie Mendelson calls “the Limberg baby.” Brownsville, the Brooklyn neighborhood of pushcarts and punch-ball games, reappears along with another set of pugilists and promoters in two of the book’s stronger pieces, “An Entrepreneurial Act” and “The Glory Days.” The former is a touching eulogy for Monk, “who throws as many punches with his face as he does with his fists”; the latter is a love letter, alternately heartbreaking and inspiring, to the camaraderie of boxers and trainers. The final three tales are told in rhyming verse, which detracts slightly from the power of the author’s wise-guy vernacular and polished prose. For the most part, Ross writes like a Steinbeck trained as a boxing columnist on the Lower East Side. Humorous turns of phrase keep sad inevitabilities at bay: “[T]his whole world ain’t made up of ditch-diggers and pugs,” says Monk—a thought that runs contrary to the world Ross handily creates.

A lithe, lyrical collection that packs more than a few punches.

Pub Date: May 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-1470002190

Page Count: 230

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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