Assocation of Jewish Librairies Review - A Book of Great Worth
Association of Jewish Libraries Reviews
Reviewed by: Merrily F. Hart, retired librarian
A few years after his return to New York from out west, but before the introduction to my mother that would change his life, my father met and became friendly with a man to whom he would always refer, usually accompanied by a wink, as the notorious Leon Arrow.''' So begins the story 'A Romantic Secret.' The author's stories of his father's life as an aspiring novelist and journalist for the New York Yiddish paper The Day are rich with warmth, humor and fascinating characters.
Writing in the first person, the author always refers to his protagonist, Harry Morgenstern as 'my father, 'which, along with the colorful details of time and place in New York and Cleveland in the 1920s and 1930s, lend a patina of age. Most of the stories take place before the author was born, when Harry was a fledgling journalist or moving up in his career in New York. After giving up his aspirations to become a novelist, Harry fled to Cleveland, attempting to avoid the long shadow of his father's and other's journalistic careers in New York. Harry's stint at writing an advice column for the Cleveland Yiddish paper provides one of the more humorous stories ('The Wisdom of Solomon'). In the title story the author writes of his father's presence at the Hindenburg disaster in 1937, although the disaster is only a small part of this tale. His participation in the strike at The Day in 1941 focuses more on his friendship with the first man he knew who was a homosexual than the ultimate personal cost of the strike: the loss of the first house he and his wife ever owned ('The Barking Dog"). The stories are a blend of fact and fiction, but they are based on and honor his father. Recommended.