THE ITINERANT by William Herrick


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Zeke Gurevich squalled his way into the world on New York's Lower East Side and the author tries to provide him with every possible experience in the years between WWII and the present to make him the mid-20th century expression of Everyman's Jewish Liberal. The East Side has been done in fiction from oh dear to dammit; from Golden's ""Nus ist gevehn"" sentimentalism to Hollywood's driven toughs. While Mr. Herrick avoids the schmaltz of both schools, he works too hard at Zeke's catholic sexual appetite and supplies him with such unlikely extremes in women (A four-in-hand tie lesbian for a first wife, an Earth Mother for a second wife, a bluestocking Greenwich Village poseur for a mistress, a nympho Southern girl for a playmate, a pederast for his school days) to altogether avoid a sloppy sort of sex phoniness. In parts, it becomes more of a study of sexual liberalism than political development. The sex life is silly but the politics seem real. Zeke inherited Kropotkin anarchism transplanted and grew up in the midst of active, vocal communism. His long stretch fighting in the Spanish Civil War is the most interesting insight into his emerging finally as a trade union organizer. Zeke has his moments but is not a memorable character. The author has a good grasp of the currents and fads between the wars. He might have been more at home with his material in straight exposition.

Pub Date: April 19th, 1967
Publisher: McGraw-Hill