Steven Bloom No New Jokes: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9780393040470

No New Jokes: A Novel

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9780393040470: No New Jokes: A Novel
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In 1949, before the onset of the Korean War, Bald Sam's Brooklyn luncheonette becomes a special gathering place for a colorful collection of characters, including ex-soldier-turned-street performer Izzy, comics Archie Feinstein and Jack Goldfarb, and others who use humor to cope with the trials of life.

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Review:

There's something the matter with Izzy, the central character of Steven Bloom's debut novel, No New Jokes. "It could be I'm not normal," he says at one point in the book; "I have the feeling whatever's happening, it's not really happening to me." In fact, Izzy is not normal--as a child, he watched his father murdered by a mob; as a young soldier in World War II, he received a head wound so severe that he became eligible for a 90 percent disability pension. Now Izzy spends his days listening to jokes in Brooklyn luncheonettes or playing his concertina for pennies in apartment house courtyards.

Bloom has set his novel in the Brooklyn of 1949, a time when Jackie Robinson had broken baseball's color barrier and civil rights were just on the horizon; when the Cold War was heating up and the horrors perpetrated against their people during the war years were still fresh in the minds of Jews everywhere. The neighborhood Izzy lives in is a Jewish one, and the jokes he listens to are Jewish jokes. Certainly they're funny, but the angst underneath the humor seeps into the fabric of No New Jokes, making this first novel a bittersweet reading experience.

From the Back Cover:

The time is 1949, just before the Korean War - a war that many believed would become World War III. At Bald Sam's luncheonette in Brooklyn, Izzy and his friends Archie Feinstein, Jack Goldfarb, Benny Kubbleman, and Meyer Woolf gather to eat, to watch the Dodgers on TV, and to share their hopes and their fears. But most of all, Izzy and his friends tell jokes. They've heard them all before, but in this time and place, jokes are their best defense against the sense of powerlessness that pervades in a world fraught with uncertainty. Izzy has been a boxer and a World War II soldier; and he carries in his head not only shrapnel from the Battle of Monte Cassino but also the memory of his father lying dead on a muddy street in Poland. Now a street singer, Izzy plays his concertina in the courtyard for a woman who invites him up for companionship and jokes, he reluctantly lets himself be set up on a date with Meyer's niece Celia, and he befriends a troubled librarian, as all the while he struggles to find his way back from his own war.

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9780393334074: No New Jokes: A Novel

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ISBN 10:  0393334074 ISBN 13:  9780393334074
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company, 1980
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